Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
What it Is
The most substantially researched form of psychotherapy in the world, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), largely influenced by the research and practice of Dr. Aaron T. Beck and Dr. Judith S. Beck, is one of the few methods of psychotherapy that is evidence-based. Evidence-based psychotherapy means that controlled research studies with a variety of populations indicate that it is more effective than other forms of therapy, what could be called non-directive, "treatments as usual," or traditional talk therapies. The work is based on the conceptualization of the interaction between a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Individuals are generally unaware that the distress they feel is a result of these interconnections. In comparison with other more traditional forms of psychotherapy, CBT generally focuses on the present, can be time limited, and emphasizes problem solving skills and techniques. CBT is more effective than medication alone, in terms of relapse prevention.
How it Works
The primary interventions in the cognitive area of CBT focus on assisting clients in identifying their unhelpful thinking and modifying it. Behaviorally, CBT interventions are aimed at changing the current behaviors that influence and maintain a client’s distress.
After an evaluation, the therapist collaboratively teaches the client alternative and consistent ways of change that are in line with the client’s objective. In turn, clients develop a sense of mastery over their functioning, an ability to handle situations that used to emotionally overwhelm them. Both areas of intervention work to change clients’ maladaptive core beliefs about themselves, others, and the world and how it functions, to more realistic beliefs.
Here are some helpful videos of Judith Beck, Ph.D. discussing CBT:
Beck, J. S. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond (2nd ed.). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
Farmer, R. F., & Chapman, A. L. (2008). Behavioral interventions in cognitive behavior therapy: Practical guidance for putting theory into action. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.