What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps clients by teaching them to identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that are contributing to their difficulties.

Cognitive behavior therapy is:

  • Evidence-based. Research has shown CBT to be an effective treatment for a variety of mood, anxiety, and other psychological difficulties. Studies comparing CBT and medications also indicate that CBT is as effective (and sometimes more effective) than medication for the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, and insomnia for many people. The treatment is also evidence-based in that you and your therapist will collect data to monitor your progress as the therapy proceeds, and will use the data to guide the treatment, making any adjustments needed to improve and strengthen the therapy to meet your needs.
  • Goal-oriented. Your therapist will work with you at the beginning of treatment to set clear, measurable goals for the treatment, and to monitor progress toward the goals. Typical therapy goals include: reducing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, reducing time spent worrying, increasing ease of decision-making, reducing procrastination, increasing social connectedness.
  • Collaborative. You and your therapist will work together as a team to understand what might be causing or maintaining the difficulties you are experiencing and to discuss strategies that might help you address them. In many ways, you and your therapist will work like scientists – developing hypotheses about your difficulties and conducting experiments to see what can help them decrease. CBT is transparent, in that you and your therapists will collaboratively discuss the CBT understanding of and approach to your difficulties.
  • Here-and-now. Although you and your therapist may want to spend some time arriving at an understanding of how you came to develop the difficulties you seek to treat, the main focus of the therapy sessions will be on understanding the here-and-now factors that cause and maintain the difficulties, and working to help you identify and practice skills and tools to address the difficulties.
  • Active. The therapist serves as teacher and coach, and the patient works outside of therapy sessions to learn and practice the concepts and skills and tools the therapist provides.