The Principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a term that refers to a technique used in psychotherapy. It is used for improving the well-being of patients with severe mental illnesses. Cognitive behavioural therapy uses the principle of active participation and collaboration to work with your emotions and feelings. In this blog post, we take a closer look at cognitive behavioral therapy, and analyze the key principles underlying cognitive behavioral therapy in more detail.
Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Neuroscientist at the University Of Cambridge.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy: An overview

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy. CBT works on the principle of understanding and recognizing negative thought patterns, irrational thoughts as well as negative behaviours by focusing on how your thoughts or emotions affect your actions. Once these patterns are identified, new coping strategies may be developed [1].

CBT is particularly helpful for people with serious mental health conditions varying from social anxiety to depression but can also help deal with relationship problems. Thus, CBT therapy can be modified based on individual needs and diagnosis [2].

It serves as an intervention to the patient’s negatively distorted cognition by improving the patient’s mental and emotional functioning and quality of life [3, 4].

CBT utilizes a wide range of techniques including behaviour activation, cognitive restructuring and problem-solving [5].

People Also Ask

CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) can improve quality of life by addressing various factors that affect well-being. It helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to distress. CBT also teaches coping skills and problem-solving techniques, which can enhance resilience and improve overall functioning. Studies have shown that CBT can lead to significant improvements in quality of life for individuals with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, eating disorders, chronic pain, anxiety disorders, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms by which CBT improves quality of life. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) utilizes various techniques to address thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Some common techniques include cognitive restructuring (identifying and challenging negative thought patterns), guided discovery (exploring alternative perspectives), exposure therapy (gradual exposure to fears or anxieties), writing exercises (tracking thoughts and behaviors), activity scheduling (planning and implementing desired activities), behavioral experiments (testing predictions about feared outcomes), relaxation techniques (deep breathing, muscle relaxation), role-playing (practicing new behaviors), and breaking tasks into smaller steps (gradual exposure to challenging tasks). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Who needs cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of individuals ranging from people with mental health issues including depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, OCD, autism or even insomnia [6, 7].

In addition to this, CBT sessions are not only for people suffering from mental health conditions. It can help individuals with relationship difficulties, traumatic stress disorder, back pain, breakup or divorce or even general life stress [6, 8]. Also, people who lost a close person can find CBT helpful.

Furthermore, individuals facing challenges related to their identity such as gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals struggling with social phobia or coming out issues may find CBT therapy sessions useful [9].

What principles underlie cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioural therapy is looking at mental disorders and psychological disorders as an imbalance in cognitive factors. Therefore, the goal of CBT is to identify dysfunctional areas within your cognition, understand them and replace them with more flexible and adaptive thinking [10]. Essentially it needs active participation from both sides -the therapist and the patient while following an established treatment plan using some of the basic principles of CBT.

One of the key principles of CBT is focusing on the present moment rather than spiralling in the past by establishing a positive mindset between the patient and the therapist [11].

Another main principle of CBT is to be able to alter thoughts, sensations, emotions and behaviours by cognitive restructuring, problem-solving and affecting regulation [10, 12].

Cognitive restructuring, also known as the ABCDE method. This method is usually used for patients who deal with neagatvie thoughts and beliefs.

This technique focuses on understanding the triggers of the negative thoughts acknowledging them and challenging the belief system in order to develop a new approach to dealing with the problem [10]

Problem-solving, also known as SOLVE. This technique focuses on understanding your specific triggers, then analysing them and choosing the best possible outcome rather then focusing on the negativism. When dealing with negative thoughts or negative situations it incites the individual to generate options, rate them and choose the best option [10]

Re-attribution is a technique used for automatic negative thoughts. It helps the patient to modify these thoughts by considering other alternative causes of the event [10].

Affect Regulation techniques are focusing on dealing with the negative emotions by implementing self-talk and relaxation [10]

In summary, CBT principles revolve around understanding and modifying cognitive factors causing psychological distress or caused by mental health problems and mental imbalance.

Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Frederika is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Cambridge, where she investigates new biomarkers for Frontotemporal Dementia and other tauopathies. Her research has been published at prestigious conferences such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023. She obtained her BSc in Biomedical Sciences from UCL, where she worked closely with the UK Dementia Research Institute.