What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

Updated: May 30

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment approach. Studies of behavior have shown a correlation between the way people feel, think, and behave. Negative feelings automatically generate negative thoughts. For example, Samantha feels nervous about going to a party where she does not know many people. She might think to herself: "What if they are not going to like me..." or "I will say something stupid and embarrass myself..." These harsh automatic thoughts are generalized and contain errors. But we believe what we feel, even if it is lacking evidence. And Samantha, in response to these thoughts may choose to avoid meeting new people and will find ways to excuse herself from social situations. This would further make Samantha feel bad. She will feel lonely and alone, which will perpetuate more negative thoughts, and so goes the vicious cycle. CBT provides strategies for ending such a cycle and gaining control over negative and self-defeating thoughts. We challenge automatic thoughts by examining their accuracy and truth. If we conclude these thoughts to be true, or partially true, we work on tools to cope with life's imperfections. On-the-other hand, if we cannot find evidence supporting the existence of the self-defeating belief, we use strategies to get rid of them. While this is a very effective approach, it works only for those who are willing to make an effort and replace old habits with new ones. Hence the joke: how many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?... that depends if the lightbulb wants to change ; )

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