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What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a common form of psychotherapy that teaches clients to recognize patterns in faulty or negative thinking in order to change them, leading to more positive behavioral choices. CBT is used often in the treatment of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, and it has proven to be an effective treatment. Even if you’re simply experiencing a stressful time in your life, this method can be useful. Let’s take a closer look at CBT, how it works and the benefits it offers.

Reasons for CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help in addressing a number of behavioral issues. Because CBT is done in a structured way that requires fewer sessions than other psychotherapy methods, it tends to be a very popular approach to psychotherapy. CBT also teaches clients how to manage challenges on their own.

CBT can be used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches, as well as with medication. It’s also a good approach to use when medication isn’t advised or isn’t wanted. CBT teaches techniques for coping with stress and emotions and focuses on improved communication skills, leading to healthier relationships and decreased personal conflict. CBT is also effective in learning to approach problems in a more effective manner; clients can better cope with various conditions such as past trauma, mental illness or grief. CBT can even be used effectively in pain management and dealing with a medical illness.

CBT is commonly used in the treatment of various mental health diagnoses. Some of the most frequently treated issues are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and phobias. It is also often used to address sleep disorders, sexual disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders and schizophrenia.

What to Expect from CBT

CBT can occur in several settings depending on the preference and your situation of the patient. It can be done one-on-one or in groups, based on those with like conditions or family units. In the first session, it’s likely the therapist will simply take the time to gather some information about patient, including some information as to why the patient is seeking therapy. This first session is also a good time for patient to get to know the therapist and to make a decision as to whether the relationship seems to be a good fit. If it does not seem like the patient doctor relationship will be a good fit, the patient can research and meet with other providers.

Patients can expect confidentiality from their therapist, except in select circumstances. These circumstances include when there is a threat to safety, either their own or someone else’s; when the therapist feels a child or vulnerable adult is in danger due to the patient’s actions; or when a patient is unable to adequately care for himself.

There are a number of steps you can expect in CBT. These include identifying the problem or troubling situation, discovering the thoughts and emotions related to this problem or circumstance, identifying negative or inaccurate thought patterns and challenging those negative or inaccurate thoughts. The therapist will tailor an approach to meet the patient’s specific circumstances, which usually includes the patient sharing information about his life, problems, thoughts and behaviors.

Patients going through CBT will learn effective techniques and strategies to help effectively deal with their problems. While there are a number of components to cognitive behavioral therapy,  it can be an extremely useful approach to help patients feel better and reach their goals.

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