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Cognitive behavioral therapy: How does CBT work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term therapy technique used by counselors and therapists to teach individuals to change their unwanted behaviors by changing their thought patterns.

The premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is that our thought patterns (cognition) and interpretations of life events greatly influence how we behave and, ultimately, how we feel.

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What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behavior. CBT aims to teach you effective coping strategies for dealing with different problems throughout life.

CBT can help you make sense of overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller parts.

One of the key tenets of CBT is that distorted thinking leads to distress and problematic behaviors, whereas thinking realistically with less negativity allows individuals to respond to challenging life circumstances in an effective way.

1. Research shows this technique is an effective therapy for not only depression and panic disorder, but many illnesses and dysfunctional behaviors.

2. Successful cognitive behavioral therapy sessions consist of a healthy collaboration between the counselor and the individual receiving therapy.

Additionally, this therapy involves clear identification of the problem, establishing attainable goals, empathic communication, frequent feedback, reality checks, homework assignments, and teaching individuals to use learned tools to promote positive behavioral change and growth.

Background of CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy was initially modeled 40 years ago to treat depression. There are now effective cognitive-behavioral models for treating panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety, insomnia, social phobia, childhood depression, anger, marital conflict, substance abuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality, dental phobia, eating disorders, and many other mental and physical conditions.3

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