What Is Cognitive Therapy?
Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy that seeks to alter how someone thinks about their problems. It has proven successful in treating many psychological issues and providing comfort to those experiencing emotional turmoil.
Cognitive therapy works on the principle that your thoughts influence how you feel and act. CBT aims to help you alter those patterns so they no longer cause you distress or lead you down unhealthy paths.
Aaron Beck first proposed this theory in the 1960s, when he observed that patients suffering from depression often displayed negative and distorted thoughts about themselves and their lives. He believed these distorted beliefs were to blame for their depressive symptoms, leading him to develop cognitive therapy as a solution.
Therapy allows clients to identify and challenge irrational thinking that causes them to have negative, distorted perspectives of themselves and their world. Once identified, reframing can often help combat these distorted thoughts by giving them a fresh interpretation that more accurately reflects reality.
One of the most widely used cognitive therapy techniques is rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). In this form of therapy, a therapist helps their patient challenge irrational thoughts such as “I am worthless” or “I can’t do anything right.”
The initial step of the REBT method involves analyzing the origin of an irrational thought by recording its Activating Event and Belief that caused it. The therapist then works with the client to uncover why this belief was formed in the first place, then challenges it based on evidence from real life experiences.
Cognitive therapy approaches such as behavioral therapy aim to teach individuals how to act in ways that lead to positive outcomes rather than negative ones. This type of therapy often includes giving clients homework or tasks outside of sessions to help them alter their thought patterns in a healthier direction.
Another type of cognitive therapy is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). This type of cognitive therapy aims to enable clients to accept their distressing thoughts while also striving to replace them with more constructive, healthy ones.
The most efficient and successful way to do this is to apply the strategies your therapist taught you during therapy to real life situations – this is known as “out-of-session” or “homework.” It’s essential to note that this portion of therapy doesn’t happen during every session; rather, it must be done consistently if you want lasting improvement.