Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Thoughts, feelings and behavior affect each other in a continuous feedback loop. For example if you have the thought I am so stupid, you may feel ashamed and then your behavior may be to hide. Similarly if you feel sad, you may have the thought I don’t want to do anything and then you may lie down or watch TV. If you say hurtful things in anger, you may feel regret and may have the thought I don’t know what’s wrong with me. In this way we can see that thoughts, feelings and behavior affect each other.
The CBT therapist will help you gain insight into how your negative beliefs about yourself, others and or the world affects how you feel and how you behave. Then he will work with you to identify and to develop more appropriate positive beliefs so that you can be more fully and happily engaged with your life, family, and work.
Because CBT is problem-focused, and goal-directed, homework or practice outside of sessions is often assigned.
CBT has been shown to be as useful as antidepressant medications for some individuals with depression and may be superior in preventing relapse of symptoms. Depressed patients learn how to change negative thought patterns in order to interpret their environment in a less negatively biased way.
CBT is also a useful treatment for anxiety disorders. Patients who experience persistent panic attacks are encouraged to test out beliefs that are related to such attacks and to develop more realistic responses to their experiences. This is beneficial in decreasing both the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Patients who experience obsessions and compulsions are guided to expose themselves to what they fear in a safe and controlled therapeutic environment. With safe and gradual exposure to feared situations, the related anxiety is reduced or eliminated.