What is CBT and How Can it Help?

I am commonly asked from people is “what is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and how can it help me with my problem?” CBT is a widely used style of therapy, yet many people do not know how it may be able to help with the problems that they are dealing with. In simple terms, this style of therapy helps you by taking your problematic thoughts, and helping you increase your internal dialogue so that you can change these thoughts to ones that help you feel better.

A common misconception that people have is that a situation or event makes them react in a certain way. The truth, however, is that it is their thinking that is causing the problem. With such problematic thinking, we can have feeling reactions that are negative. This can further lead to a problematic behavior as well.

This is where CBT can help. In therapy sessions, your therapist will help you identify problematic thinking. In the beginning, the therapist may be more directive and point out to you when your thinking is problematic, and tell you specifically what to do. Your therapist may also provide you with possible solutions as well.

The overall goal of your therapist’s feedback is to help you improve on your internal dialogue. What we know is that three out of our four basic emotions are negative. Therefore, it can be quite easy to fall into negative thinking patterns. It is important to first recognize that these thoughts are taking place. Many people go through their lives without recognizing that their thinking is causing any problems at all. They just know that they don’t feel well.

As time passes and you practice challenging your negative thinking, your therapist will become less directive. He will ask you questions in the hope that you will catch yourself and change your thinking on your own. Your therapist will give you hints to promote you using a more rational style of thinking. The final goal is that your therapist can step away completely, and you can go through this process on your own.

Cognitive-Behavioral therapy usually lasts only a few months. In the early phase of treatment, it is recommended to participate in weekly therapy sessions. After there is visible improvement, your therapist may recommend scaling back to every two weeks. This gives a further opportunity to see if the changes that you have made are likely to become lifelong changes. This pattern continues until you are able to completely scale back altogether.


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