What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that was developed in the 1960s to treat problems with a solution focus. In CBT, emotion filled thoughts that influence our perceptions and behaviors are identified. Negative thoughts that are unrealistic or unhelpful are challenged. Strategies are then developed to overcome destructive thoughts and change patterns of behavior. These strategies can be practiced and used over a lifetime.
For example, a person that suffers from social anxiety may fear parties and avoid them. That person’s thoughts may be “I don’t know what to say to people.” “I won’t say anything right.” “Nobody will want to talk to me.” After turning down a party invitation, thoughts often continue to be negative and spiral downward. “I have disappointed everyone.” “No one will like me anymore.” “I’m such a failure.” In this case, the party itself is not what is upsetting. It’s the emotional thoughts about the party that is upsetting.
In CBT, negative thoughts are explored to understand where they stem from and to identify unrealistic, harmful, and destructive thoughts. Strategies are developed to challenge and overcome the harmful thoughts.