What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Core principles

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, works on the concept that everything you think, feel, and do is intertwined—your perception affects your reality. So if your thoughts and feelings are negative, you are more likely to experience unfavorable outcomes.

CBT can help you respond more positively to what now may feel like overwhelming challenges by breaking them down into their components. This helps you to identify your own negative patterns, learn how to change them, and in turn change how you feel.

CBT differs from other “talking treatments” in that it deals with your current issues, instead of those from your past. The main focus is on improving how you deal with things, and maintaining a positive state of mind, on a daily basis.

Common uses

CBT is known to be effective in treating a variety of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. It can also help with:

CBT can also be used to treat long-term health conditions, such as:

While CBT is not a cure for physical symptoms, it can help you handle them better.

What can I expect from a CBT session?

You will likely meet with a therapist once a week for a 45-minute session. Treatment is usually at least 20 sessions.

Your therapist will work with you to determine which areas you need to concentrate on, recognize thoughts and behaviors that are holding you back, and figure out the effects of their interconnection on your life.

Once you’ve pinpointed what you need to change, together you will decide how to reverse these self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. Your therapist will recommend that you incorporate these changes into your daily life, and then at each following session you will discuss your progress.

The goal of CBT is to teach you to apply what you learned over the course of the sessions to your everyday life. You should then be able deal with your problems in such a way that they no longer have a negative impact, well after your treatment is over.