Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

What is CBT?

CBT is an evidence based therapy framework that encompasses a broad group of tools and techniques. It is the most well-researched evidence based therapy and has been found to be effective in treating numerous conditions, such as PTSD, depression, social anxiety, phobias, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, OCD, and insomnia. It can also be helpful with addressing low self-esteem, body image concerns, anger management, and interpersonal communication.

The core principle of CBT is looking at how someone’s thoughts about a situation or event can change their emotions and behavior. For example, if someone forgets to send an attachment to an e-mail, they might think “I’m a complete failure” and then feel quite down and depressed. In CBT, the client would work to challenge that thought to shift it to something more balanced, like “I made a small mistake, but I am still good at my job.” Shifting this negative, distorted thought to a more accurate one, would make the client feel more confident at work and with themselves. In CBT therapy, clients learn how to identify and challenge distorted thoughts. Clients will often change some of their behaviors in order to shift their thoughts and emotions as well.
What happens during CBT?

CBT incorporates a group of therapy techniques that are used to treat a wide range of mental health difficulties. There are different CBT treatment protocols geared toward each mental health struggle, but they all use CBT techniques to treat the issue at hand.

CBT has been one of the most dominant models of therapy for the past 20 years and most therapists have been trained in the basics of using CBT. Yet, many therapists do not use CBT in a systematic way, and will often use these tools as only a small portion of their usual therapy sessions. CBT has not been found to be fully effective when used in this manner. To gain the full benefit of CBT, these tools need to be used consistently throughout treatment. At Proven Progress Counseling and Trauma Treatment, PLLC, your therapist will utilize CBT in a cohesive, comprehensive manner so that you get the full benefit of this effective treatment.

How long does CBT take?

It depends on the issue being treated. In general, CBT therapy tends to last about 9-15 sessions.

Is homework a part of CBT?

Yes, homework is an essential part of CBT. CBT sessions will usually include homework assignments to complete worksheets between sessions and often to engage in some different activities. Homework assignments will usually take about 15-30 minutes each day.

CBT for Depression (CBT-D):

CBT for Depression (CBT-D) has been determined to be a very effective therapy approach for reducing depression symptoms. The overall goal of CBT-D is to reduce a client’s symptoms of depression by helping them to develop more balanced and helpful thoughts about themselves, others, and the future. CBT-D also uses behavior change techniques by having clients spend more time engaging in pleasurable or productive activities.

Prolonged Exposure (PE) & Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT):

Both Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), two evidence based PTSD treatments, fall within the CBT family. CPT primarily focuses on the distorted thoughts about that clients have about themselves and the world that occur after a trauma. PE focuses more on the behavior side of CBT, in having clients re-engage in activities that they have been avoiding as a result of the trauma and talking about their trauma in order to decrease the intense emotions associated with this memory.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT):

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an evidence based therapy that helps clients manage their emotions and improve their ability to communicate and connect with other people. There are four main key areas that are addressed in DBT: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. Clients learn and apply different skills to address each of these key areas.

CBT for Insomnia (CBT-I):

CBT for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a treatment that is used to help people who are experiencing insomnia. It helps clients change the behaviors that are interfering with their sleep. It also helps clients identify and challenge the negative thoughts that make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Exposure and Response Prevention:

Exposure and Response Prevention is a CBT treatment that has been found effective for patients with OCD. In Exposure and Response Prevention, clients will work with their therapist to develop a list of situations that trigger obsessive or compulsive behavior. The behaviors on this list will be organized from the easiest to the hardest to resist. The client will gradually work their way through this list by exposing themselves to a trigger and then preventing themselves from engaging in the compulsive behavior. For example, a client with compulsive hand washing might work on an exposure situation in which they avoid hand washing after shaking hands with a family member, and then, work up to avoiding hand washing after shaking hands with a stranger.

Exposure Therapy:

Exposure therapy is a CBT treatment that assists people who are struggling with phobias and anxiety. In exposure therapy, clients will develop a list of fearful situations that they are avoiding and systematically work through this list until they no longer feel fearful. For example, for someone with a fear of flying, they might start with looking at pictures of planes, then videos, then going to an airport to see planes takeoff and land, and continue to work through these types of steps until they no longer are fearful of flying.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Online Resources

The Beck Institute
Provides further details of different CBT therapies and information about how these tools are used to treat a wide variety of mental health issues.

Mental Health Help
Provides an overview of CBT, including a video explaining CBT.