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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy used to help treat mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. This method of therapy helps to make one aware of the negative thought processes and inaccurate behavioral patterns behind his or her condition. The goal of therapy is to create ways to change the negative thinking and behavioral patterns that have been established, encouraging one to respond in a positive and effective manner.


There is no risk involved with treatment through use of cognitive behavioral therapy. Some patients may feel uncomfortable exploring painful feelings or memories, thus feeling upset, angry or physically drained after a session. If exposure therapy is used to help a patient confront a specific situation, there may be some level of temporary stress or anxiety. Despite this all, the benefits of working with an experienced therapist to develop effective coping skills to conquer such challenges is, for many, worth the temporary discomfort.


Which mental health conditions can be treated through use of cognitive behavioral therapy?

The following are a list of mental health conditions that can be effectively treated with use of this form of therapy:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sexual disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance use disorders


Why do therapists use it?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions. It helps a person to quickly identify the challenges they may be facing and from there create coping strategies. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be completed in fewer sessions that many other methods of therapy.


This form of therapy helps to manage symptoms of mental illnesses, especially when the use of medication is not an option. Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in resolving interpersonal relationship conflicts, managing grief, overcoming emotional trauma, coping with stress or a medical illness, and identifying ways to manage emotions.


What can be expected from cognitive behavioral therapy?

For the initial session, the therapist will work with the patient to identify the goals of treatment, explain the therapy approach that will be used and allow the patient to determine if the therapist’s approach is the proper fit for his or her needs.  It is also to be understood that information that is shared with a therapist is confidential unless there is an imminent threat to safety that legally requires the therapist to file a report.


During treatment, the therapist will encourage the patient to identify challenging conditions or situations that should be focused on for improvement. Such conditions or situations may include symptoms of a mental illness, or a particularlytroubling event such as the loss of loved one or divorce. Once identified, the therapist will encourage the patient to become aware of the thoughts or emotions that are felt in relation to these situations or conditions. Since many of the emotions that are felt are typically negative, it is essential for the patient to identify the particular patterns that connect their emotions and behavior. Once such patterns are identified, the therapist will encourage the patient to challenge these feelings, change mistaken perceptions, and help create coping strategies.


Cognitive behavioral therapy will not cure a mental health condition, but, if approached properly, it can be quite successful in helping a patient to cope in a healthy way. In order for cognitive behavioral therapy to be effective, the patient must be honest and have a genuine interest in self-help measures. The patient and therapist need to work as partners to create effective solutions. Instant results should not be expected. The patient must be dedicated to his or her treatment plan and practice specific coping strategies in all environments outside the therapist’s office.