Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT Therapy

“CBT” stands for cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy or "talk therapy" that helps people identify and replace negative thoughts and behaviors with more positive and useful ones. This type of therapy helps patients gain insight and tools to develop healthy coping skills and modify their negative feelings.

How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

CBT is defined by three different key parts: breathing retraining, education about mental health and cognitive restructuring. Together and alone, these components offer an effective means to reduce many coinciding issues of addiction like anxiety, negativity, distress, irritability, and physical tension in the body. Below is a further look into each of the components:

Breathing Retraining: Using the same concepts in meditation, the practice retrains the body to inhale and exhale in ways that will help the body reach a relaxed state. This exercise can be especially useful while experiencing stressful situations.

Education: During this segment, the individual will learn about the many causes and symptoms of mental health and addiction to gain a better understanding of the connection between the two. Education also extends into learning effective resources and practices to help in the recovery stage to properly manage health and stressors in an effective manner.

Cognitive Reframing (Restructuring): A very important process during CBT. Here individuals will identify and challenge the thoughts and beliefs that cause them distress. The process involves self-monitoring to increase awareness of thoughts that may lead to distress and anxiety. With the help of a therapist, people learn to identify certain thinking patterns that contribute to the anxiety of negative feelings. From there, the therapist will teach techniques for challenging and modifying thought patterns to reduce distress and anxiety.

Who Benefits from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is one of the most widely used types of psychotherapies because it is effective and can help a variety of mental illnesses. CBT can be used to treat co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders as well as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders as well as many other mental health disorders. In fact, CBT does not have to be limited to those who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder; CBT practices can be useful for anyone interested in learning how to change their thinking and behavior patterns for the better in order to create healthier relationships, reach personal goals, and generally change their lives for the better.

When is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effective?

CBT is a useful treatment for many psychological and behavioral health issues, including:


  • Substance use disorders
  • Phobias
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Sexual disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)


Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help you cope with emotional challenges, whether situational or ongoing. Some of the situations when a therapist might suggest CBT include:

  • Managing mental illness symptoms
  • Overcoming trauma
  • Preventing relapse of behavioral health issues
  • Coping with loss or grief
  • Treating mental health conditions when medications are not a good option
  • Managing chronic physical symptoms, including pain
  • Learning to cope with stressful life situations
  • Coping with a medical illness
  • Managing emotions
  • Learning better ways to communicate with loved ones and coworkers

Your therapist may combine cognitive behavioral therapy with other treatment approaches or types of psychotherapy, depending on your specific struggles and circumstances.

What Makes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy so Effective?

Essentially, CBT is a very structured process and requires very few sessions compared to other psychotherapy approaches; therefore it produces results faster. Many therapists prefer cognitive behavioral therapy to other approaches because it quickly prepares their patients to not only identify cognitive issues but to cope with the challenges as well.

How Long Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Take to Be Effective?

Results can vary depending on how severe the symptoms are, but overall, many experience the full benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy within five to 10 months. This timeline also depends on how often the therapy is being administered. Generally, in a treatment setting, CBT is used everyday so the effects will be felt sooner than say in outpatient.

CBT is considered a short-term psychotherapy because you can see results in as little as 10 to 20 therapy sessions, depending on your situation. A large contributor to the effectiveness and efficiency of CBT relies on how receptive the individual is to the therapy. An essential part of CBT therapy is practice sessions outside of therapy. Some assignments a therapist might have their clients practice could involve self-monitoring cognitive or behavioral responses during difficult and upsetting situations. Continual and daily practice is essential for the natural progression of cognitive behavioral therapy. The amount you practice outside therapy sessions will directly relate to the benefits from CBT. In other words, like many things in life, you get out of it what you put into it.

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