Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a solutions-focused form of talk therapy that is designed to address specific, usually negative, thoughts and behaviors (symptoms). When participating in CBT, people work on identifying any distorted, problematic thoughts and behaviors they have, and replacing those thoughts and behaviors with healthier and more beneficial options. This technique allows participants to more accurately view situations and respond to those situations in a more useful way. Participants are also taught to question their negative thoughts and feelings, rather than simply accepting them.
CBT is intended to be short-term therapy; people generally engage in 10 to 20 CBT sessions with their mental health provider. You will work directly with your mental health provider to determine what length of treatment is best for you and your situation.
CBT is appropriate for people of any age, and is applied one-on-one with just you and a mental health provider in an individual therapy session. Some of the diagnoses for which people seek CBT include:
- Anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Mood disorders
- Trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Substance use disorders
- Self-esteem issues
In CBT, you will work together with your mental health provider to determine what your treatment goals are, and to identify the problems what you would like to address – this is known as your action plan.
When engaging in CBT, you learn different skills to help you reframe your negative thoughts and feelings as positive and constructive. You will learn these skills while in session with your mental health provider. Your therapist will likely give you ‘homework’ so you can practice the skills you are learning in session in real situations.
Regularly revisiting your treatment plan and goals can help assure that the treatment in which you are engaging is the right one for you. You may find CBT alone is enough to help you, or you may combine it with other forms of treatment.