Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was developed by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. He understood how important thoughts and feelings were to specific situations, and felt they were not being adequately reported during psychotherapy sessions. Dr. Beck found that identifying these thoughts was the key to individuals understanding and overcoming their difficulties.
The Beck Institute says that “Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a time-sensitive, structured, present-oriented psychotherapy directed toward solving current problems and teaching clients skills to modify dysfunctional thinking and behavior.”
Cognitive behavioral therapy is applied to a wide variety of issues including anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and difficulties with relationships or sleeping. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective for many types of other problems such as:
- Mood swings
- General health issues and chronic pain
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Anger management
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
One of the many advantages of CBT is that it helps to deal with emotional problems in a fairly quick manner – usually taking five to ten months with one hour sessions per week. During this time, the therapist and patient work together to figure out what the issues are and find new strategies to deal with them. This includes a change of mindset and attitude that allows for a new set of appropriate values that can last a lifetime.
Often, the individual will discover how certain thinking patterns began in childhood, and how to overcome unhealthy thoughts and beliefs. Psychotherapists who practice cognitive behavioral therapy will customize the therapy to the specific needs of each individual.
What may be surprising to many is that actual events may not be what is upsetting someone. Often it’s the negative thoughts and feelings that are associated with them. For example, if an anxious child who has been bullied in the past is convinced that he will be ridiculed at school and nothing will go right, he will convince himself (and others) that he is too sick to go to school. Then, he will stay home and fret about his failure to show up to the point he’ll want to stay home again the next day. When in reality, he could have gone to school, performed well and felt really good about himself.
Cognitive behavioral therapy addresses these issues with structured sessions that include talking about specific problems and setting goals. The goals usually include main topics that need to be worked on during the coming week. Patients are also given homework that may include keeping a diary of certain incidents, or exercises on how to cope with particular situations.
If you or someone you love could benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, please contact a qualified mental health professional who can recommend the best course of treatment after a comprehensive evaluation, and help bring balance back into life. Dr. Susan K Daniel, specializes in cognitive behavioral treatment, and can help develop an effective treatment plan.