Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Dr. Aaron Beck, known as the father of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), developed this life-changing therapy in the 1960s. Since then, it’s become one of the most common evidence-based therapy for treating mental health disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on how cognitions (or thoughts), emotions, and behaviors relate to each other and how changing the way an individual evaluates a situation can change their behavioral reaction. It’s an evidence-based treatment designed to alter the damaging negative thought patterns and negative feelings that some people develop about themselves. Some examples of pervasive negative thoughts and feelings can include, “No one loves me,” and “I’m not good enough”. These destructive and irrational belief systems can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like substance abuse or self-harm. A mental health professional can utilize cognitive behavioral therapy in individual therapy sessions or in group therapy sessions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy programs can be extremely beneficial either by themselves or in combination with other types of interpersonal therapy in treating mental health disorders. However, not all individuals who benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy have mental health conditions. Cognitive behavioral therapy programs can actually be an effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life events, deal with emotional challenges, and improve their mental health.

Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Effective?

Several studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy programs are popular alternatives to medication when it comes to treating mental health conditions. A National Institutes of Health study that examined the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy across groups of patients suffering from a wide variety of mental health disorders found that more significant improvement was seen in the groups that underwent cognitive behavioral therapy than in those that did not.

Studies have also found that cognitive behavioral therapy can be as effective in treating depression as prescription antidepressants. Unlike medication, which simply aims to eliminate the symptoms of the mental health conditions, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the whole person by addressing the individual’s underlying core beliefs, dysfunctional assumptions, and negative automatic thoughts. Helping individuals identify and change their destructive thoughts and behaviors sets cognitive behavioral therapy apart from other therapies like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), mindfulness-based therapies, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

The Three Basic Principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

According to Dr. Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive behavioral therapy, the three basic principles of this evidence-based therapy are:

Therapies That Utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There are several therapies that incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy. Some of these mental health therapeutic approaches include:
This mental health therapy focuses on helping individuals identify and change their inaccurate or distorted thought patterns, emotional challenges, and destructive behaviors.
Dialectical behavior therapy helps individuals improve their emotional health by addressing destructive or disturbing thoughts and behaviors while incorporating treatment strategies like emotional regulation and mindfulness.
This type of therapy suggests that mental health disorders should be treated by addressing seven different but interconnected modalities: behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition/thoughts, interpersonal factors, and biological considerations.
Rational emotive behavior therapy helps individuals identify their self-defeating thoughts, challenge those thoughts, and replace those thoughts with more adaptive beliefs.
This mental health therapy is a specific modality of cognitive behavioral therapy that targets obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorders. Exposure response and prevention therapy helps individuals address their intrusive, compulsive, obsessive, and ruminating thoughts.

Mental Health Disorders We Treat Using CBT

At Lifeskills South Florida, we use cognitive behavioral therapy to help clients struggling with mental illness eliminate their negative thought patterns and improve their emotional health so they can focus solely on their recovery. Cognitive behavioral therapy is used by our mental health professionals to help clients manage their symptoms associated with several mental health disorders including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD), depressive disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, and substance use disorder.

How Our Mental Health Professionals Use CBT

As part of our Clinical Pathways, we offer a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Pathway. In this pathway, the CBT methods we use help clients increase their awareness of irrational thoughts and the internal response to those thoughts, while simultaneously helping them build healthy, non-destructive coping skills. The methods we use require an intense level of participation from both the client and their therapist to help the client learn and practice healthy coping skills and emotional responses. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, clients struggling with a mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) learn to recognize when involuntary negative thoughts enter their minds as well as the triggers that cause them.

Empathy is also an important component of our cognitive behavioral therapy. For example, a client may feel that they are misunderstood by their friends, family, and loved ones. Through discussion and examination of the client’s point of view, our CBT therapist empathizes and connects with them, helping them to understand that their resulting thoughts and feelings are valid.

Once a strong foundation is established, our CBT therapist helps the client mentally and emotionally organize the life events that have negatively impacted their mental health. By examining each client’s unique experiences and showing them the relationship between their emotional distress and their harmful belief system, our mental health professionals help clients start the recovery and healing process.

It’s important to note that treatment approaches will vary based on each client’s diagnosis and unique needs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Benefits

Some of the benefits of this solution-focused therapy include, but aren’t limited to:
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