Posted by: leslielpc | December 16, 2009

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)??

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that looks at the important role of our thinking in relation to how we feel and behave.   CBT is actually a general term used for a classification of therapies with the similarity being the role of our thoughts.  There are a number of CBT approaches which you may have heard about including: Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Rational Living Therapy and Dialectic Behavior Therapy. 

Regardless of the name used, CBT’s have a number of the following characteristics: 

  1. CBT is based on what is called the Cognitive Model of Emotional Response – which essentially means that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors.  Most of us are used to thinking that something outside of us caused our feelings and behaviors – such as other people, situations or events.  The good news is that we can’t change other people, situations or events, but we can learn to change how we think about them.
  2. CBT tends to be a more structured type of session where in some cases you may actually set an agenda for the session with your therapist.  Another common aspect of CBT is that homework is used to further what you have learned in your therapy session.  You may only be going to therapy for one hour on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but you can continue to progress well with what you do outside the therapy session.
  3. CBT encourages a positive relationship with your therapist as well as emphasizing a collaborative effort between you and your therapist.  The therapist will want to know what goals YOU want to achieve.  And as Dr. Aldo R Pucci notes, “the therapist’s role is to listen, teach, and encourage, while the client’s role is to express concerns, learn and implement that learning”.
  4. CBT is based on an educational model of therapy.  This essentially means that most of our emotional and behavioral reactions are learned!  Again, the good news is if we have learned them, we can UN-learn them, and thereby learn a more productive way to think, feel and behave.
  5. CBT uses what is called the Socratic Method.  Wikipedia gives the following definition: “named after the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate rational thinking and to illuminate ideas”.  Essentially this means that your therapist will ask you questions and you will learn how to ask yourself questions!  For example, you walk by a co-worker and say hello and they do not respond.  You might assume that they are mad at you or do not like you.  You might then be asked if there is any evidence for what you are assuming, and to look at what might be a different way of looking at that situation? (perhaps they are overwhelmed at work or home, just got a phone call that they won the lottery…you get the point).
  6. CBT is a research-based form of therapy that has been demonstrated in hundreds of studies to be an effective treatment for a variety of disorders and problems for adults, older adults, children and adolescents.  It has been found to be effective for such challenges as: depression, anxiety (including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety and Social Phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Dental Anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder),  Seasonal Affective Disorder, Caregiver Distress, Insomnia and Sleep problems, Weight loss and Obesity to name just some on the list (for a comprehensive listing, please visit the following link{278F27CC-505D-4330-9740-E13E28535BDA}&SP=2

If you would like to learn more about how CBT might be helpful for you, please contact me at or 210.379.4403.

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