How Does Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) Work?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a practical short-term psychotherapy treatment approach for focussing on changing a person’s negative thoughts and behaviours. It is an effective method treating mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, as well as addressing sleep problems, communication challenges, relationship difficulties, eating disorders, and more.

What Is CBT?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common form of talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy. Patients attend a limited number of sessions with a licensed therapist or psychotherapist to help take hold of negative thoughts or behaviours and address challenging situations and in turn, to develop skills and strategies to become and stay healthy.

This form of psychotherapy is based on several core principles, including:

  • Psychological problems stem from negative or unhealthy thought patterns
  • Psychological problems are tied to learned think patterns as a result of harmful behaviour
  • By learning coping mechanisms and skills, those suffering from psychological problems can find happiness and success

The practice of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) stems from the belief that how a patient perceives events determines their actions, and not necessarily the events themselves. For example, someone with depression might feel as if there is no solution to a negative situation. These low thoughts might cause them to only fixate on negative thoughts and block out any others that suggest otherwise.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) works to alter this negative thought pattern and helps patients approach challenges from a new perspective. A therapist or social worker will help patients unlearn negative reactions and learn how to apply positive reactions to adversity.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Techniques

Many therapists approach cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in different ways with their patients, depending on the individual’s goals and personalities. Using a structured approach, psychotherapy practitioners may employ a variety of different therapeutic techniques, including:

  • Keeping a journal to better understand thought patterns
  • Learning to develop a greater sense of self-confidence in individual abilities
  • Practicing meditation and other acts of mindfulness
  • Understanding the intentions and motivations of others
  • Using roleplaying to overcome communication challenges and prepare for potentially problematic social interactions
  • Social, physical, and thinking exercises that bring awareness to emotional and behavioural patterns

In a way, this form of psychotherapy helps train patients to become their own therapists. Therapist and patients work together in a collaborative way to help the individual develop coping skills, alter their thinking, address past traumatic events in the past, and tackle problematic behavior.

It’s important to note that though cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) therapists will address the histories of their patients, a large focus of therapy will be on moving forward and focusing on the present. Patients will learn a set of psychotherapy principles that can be applied to a variety of different situations and help them in every part of their life.

Top 10 Best Therapists

Melissa Cutler has spent the past 20 years helping Toronto patients through cognitive behavioural therapy treatment to get to the root causes of conflict and emotional distress, and veer away from destructive behavior patterns, and change their thought processes.

With two decades of clinical, research, and counseling experience, she helps clients and their loved ones navigate emotional and psychological periods and get back on the right track.

Book online for a psychotherapy appointment at her office on Yonge and Lawrence near the subway.