The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is becoming more and more popular. It seems as though every week there is a new study or finding touting the usefulness of CBT - and with good reason, too. CBT has demonstrated its effectiveness time and again in treating a number of mental health concerns or difficulties with coping with uncomfortable thoughts or emotions. 

What exactly is CBT and how is it different than other types of therapies?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a set of strategies, theories, and interventions that can be used flexibly to treat a number of disorders. CBT works from the principle that distress and/or mental health concerns are due to thinking errors (cognitive distortions) and problematic or absent behaviors and particular situations all of which influence emotions. It is believed that by learning to challenge/change distorted thoughts, altering problematic behaviors, and learning to handle situations differently your emotions can change and problems can be resolved.  In fact, learning these adaptable and useful skills has been linked to change in neurological functioning and improvement in overall quality of life. 

CBT is considered a short-term, goal-oriented treatment. CBT is fairly structured with the purpose of identifying current problems and working to resolve those problems to alleviate symptoms and concerns. This is different than other therapies that are less structured and allow for freely moving from one topic to the next. CBT also utilizes homework to aid in change. A CBT therapist may ask that clients work on skills between sessions in real-world settings to anchor skills and reinforce change. 

Another aspect of CBT therapy is the collaborative approach to treatment. This means your therapist will not just pick the treatment and strategies for you. Instead, your therapist works with you to tackle the problem together in a way that fits best for you in your life. 

What problems, issues, or symptoms are appropriately treated by CBT?

CBT has been found, through rigorous studies and trials, to be effective in the treatment of many different disorders. Some of these include: 

  • Anxiety

  • Bipolar Disorder

  • Depression

  • Eating disorders

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Phobias

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Psychosis

  • Sleep problems

  • Substance Abuse problems

  • Some physical health/pain conditions

Is CBT right for me?

If you think that you may be experiencing one of the conditions above, CBT may be right for you. Additionally, as CBT requires regular and consistent attendance to sessions in addition to homework, you need to have time to devote to treatment. If you feel ready to both think and talk about your thoughts, feelings, and actions this therapy would likely be a good fit.