What Is CBT?


COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT) is a generic term for various types of evidenced based psychotherapies which include Behavioral Activation, Mindfulness-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Therapy,Cognitive Processing Therapy, CBTi (Insomnia focused CBT), Metacognitive Therapy, Schema Focused Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, Exposure and Response Prevention, Emotional Schema Focused Therapy as well as other evidenced based psychological/behavioral protocols.  The common core of CBT involves the relationship between implicit or explicit mood, behavior, and perception.

Key features:

  • Multidimensional or holistic view of emotional experiences.  CBT integrates current scientific research covering amongst other dimensions; Mindfulness Training, mind and body systems, epigenetics, cell biology e.g. telomeres and stress, various roles played by the immune system, neuroscience and other scientific advances following the spirit of multidisciplinary organizations, e.g. American Psychological Science.

  • Evidence-Based:  For the past four decades randomized studies have found CBT to be efficacious for a variety of disorders:  Depression, Bi-Polar Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Panic, Anger Management, Insomnia, and PTSD, as well as other psychological difficulties.

  • Goal Oriented:  The therapist and the client together develop goals for treatment and monitor progress.

  • Continuity of care: An agenda is set for each session. Agendas include: What the client found to be helpful as well as found to be less helpful in the previous session, What the past week was like, What they feel would be useful to discuss in the current session, Review what was the result of previous own work assignment (usually a behavioral experiment, thought processing exercise or an exposure exercise), as well as a report of medications taken or not taken.

  • Collaboration:  The therapist and client work as a team to understand what may be triggering or maintaining the symptom and discuss strategies that may help.  Dr.  Aaron T. Beck, one of the founders of Cognitive Therapy, described the process of therapy as similar to a team of scientists working together to form hypotheses about the problem or difficulty and conduct experiments to see what can help.

  • Implicit goal to teach the client to be their own therapist:  Constantly collecting data to create a set of tools as well as strategies to emotionally and behaviorally regulate.   Emotions are a normal product of being human, nevertheless “too much-no good” and “too little-no good”.

  • Own work/Action Plan:  The session is usually one hour out of a one hundred and sixty eight hour week.  During that one hour the client and therapist together plan homework/own work assignments to build the client’s coping repertoire. Thus, with own work, therapy continues during the remaining one hundred and sixty seven hours of the week. As one person said “Don’t mope or dope, and work to cope while maintaining hope”.