Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, problem-focused form of behavioral treatment that helps people see the relationship between beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, and subsequent behavior patterns and actions. Through CBT, people learn that their perceptions directly influence their responses to specific situations. In other words, a person’s thought process informs his or her behaviors and actions. Cognitive behavioral therapy is not a distinct treatment technique; rather, it is a general term which refers to a group of therapies that have certain similarities in therapeutic methodology. The group includes rationale emotive behaviour therapy, cognitive therapy, and dialectical behaviour therapy, for example.
This structured approach ensures that the therapist and the individual in treatment are focused on the goals of each session, ensuring that the time spent in therapy is productive. The person in therapy benefits from a collaborative relationship in which he or she is able to reveal personal issues without fear of judgment and is helped to understand the issues at hand without being told which choices he or she should make.
CBT techniques incorporate many different therapeutic tools to help people in therapy evaluate their emotional patterns and states. To reinforce the therapy, homework (such as practical exercises, reading, or writing assignments) is completed by the individual in treatment, outside of the scheduled time for therapy. Homework is a crucial aspect of many CBT treatment plans and challenges the affected individual to continue working independently, even after therapy comes to an end.
The cognitive behavioural process is based on an educational model where people in therapy are helped to unlearn negative reactions and learn new, positive emotional and behavioural reactions to challenging situations. By breaking down overwhelming problems into small manageable parts, and then setting and reaching short-term goals, the therapist gradually adjusts the way the person in treatment thinks, feels, and reacts in challenging situations. Changing attitudes and behaviours can help people learn to address specific issues in positive and productive ways.
“People are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.” –Albert Ellis
Often, ways of thinking ingrained in our brains at an early age or resulting from painful or traumatic events continue to subconsciously influence our behaviors and perceptions into adulthood. REBT seeks to reshape these core beliefs in those experiencing a wide range of mental health conditions, thereby enabling them to live full, satisfying lives free from unnecessary psychological distress.