Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that initiates behavioral change by identifying, evaluating and responding to dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs. CBT includes several goal-oriented, structured and solution-focused techniques (reading, journaling, etc.) to help you learn new habits, improve your mood and change your thinking. 

The independent mental health social network, Psych Central, explains how psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy invented CBT in the 1960s:

“[Beck] was doing psychoanalysis at the time and observed that during his analytical sessions, his patients tended to have an internal dialogue going on in their minds — almost as if they were talking to themselves. But they would only report a fraction of this kind of thinking to him…

“Beck realized that the link between thoughts and feelings was very important. He invented the term automatic thoughts to describe emotion-filled thoughts that might pop up in the mind. Beck found that people weren’t always fully aware of such thoughts, but could learn to identify and report them. If a person was feeling upset in some way, the thoughts were usually negative and neither realistic nor helpful. Beck found that identifying these thoughts was the key to the client understanding and overcoming his or her difficulties.”

The basis of CBT is the concept that how you feel emotionally is influenced by your perceptions. For example, two people are presented the same project at work. Person A is very excited at the new challenge and opportunity to work as a group. Person B, on the other hand, is extremely stressed about the challenge and working with a group. The project is the same, but their emotions or perceptions about the project are different. 

In hundreds of clinical trials, CBT has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment* for a wide variety of disorders:

  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders (CBT is the gold standard treatment for binge-eating disorder)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse 
  • Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (in combination with medication)
  • Chronic or acute pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Gulf War syndrome

CBT is also used to address relationship and work difficulties, anger, compulsivity, stress, low self-esteem, grief, loss and problems associated with aging.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is one of the three successful therapies used in SELF ReClaimed along with Positive Psychology and Bibliotherapy. Changing the way you think can be difficult, but it is a skill that can be learned, just like riding a bike or tying your shoes. It takes being taught and some practice. SELF ReClaimed is a great teacher and each element in the toolkit provides lots of practice opportunities.

For more information, check out this two-part video series.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. The information provided here is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a mental or physical healthcare professional and should not be construed as individual medical advice.