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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive therapy was developed by Aaron T. Beck at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1960’s as a structured, short-term, present-oriented psychotherapy for depression. The practice of cognitive therapy was directed toward solving current problems and modifying dysfunctional thinking and behavior.1Since that time, Beck and others have successfully adapted this therapy to a wide array of psychiatric disorders and populations. The cognitive model proposes that distorted or dysfunctional thinking is common to all psychological disturbances and subsequently influences the patient’s mood and behavior.2Realistic evaluation and modification of thoughts are one aspect of cognitive treatment with a patient’s improvement resulting from the modification of those underlying...

While there are no serious side effects stemming from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT is not for everyone and another type of treatment may work better for different individuals. CBT is also not a quick fix. A therapist is like a personal trainer that advises and encourages - but cannot 'do' it for you. This will take an investment of time and money on the individual’s part. Moreover, if you are feeling low energy, depressed, or anxious, it can be difficult to concentrate and get motivated and CBT relies on the individual engaging with the process, trying new strategies, and completing “homework” in between sessions. You need to have a certain degree of motivation to benefit from CBT. Lastly, to overcome anxiety or any other psychological disturbance, you need to confront it. This may...

The basic premise underlying CBT, whether it is conducted with an individual, family, couple or in a group, is that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are inter-related, so altering one can help to alleviate difficulties in another. For instance, changing negative thoughts about oneself can lead to less sadness and anxiety, and more willingness to try new activities and work on improving relationships.

Common Treatment Strategies

There are numerous techniques used in CBT, so the list below is by no means exhaustive. Depending on the needs of the particular client, therapy is likely to involve some of the following:8

Responses to unhealthy thinking:

'Cognitive restructuring' involves trying to re-evaluate the negative thinking patterns that maintain distorted beliefs...