Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or more commonly referred to as CBT, is an evidenced-based counseling treatment developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960s. Beck found that the older ways of counseling were not backed by scientific evidence, and so he developed a new protocol through experimentation that proved change was possible. Beck correctly theorized that negative thoughts and beliefs perpetuated distressing emotions, so if thoughts and beliefs could be changed to better match a person’s reality, moods would change as well.
Many disorders become a never-ending cycle. Take depression, for example: Negative thoughts (about self, world, or future) create a depressed mood, and this mood leads to unhelpful behaviors such as isolation or drinking. Those unhelpful behaviors create more negative thoughts, and the cycle begins again. CBT teaches specific skills to change this cycle. Some skills you could expect to learn in session include identifying automatic thoughts, exploring underlying assumptions and beliefs, correcting cognitive distortions, and practicing relaxation exercises. You can also expect to engage in behavioral experiments and exposure interventions.
You might be asking yourself if CBT is the right approach for your sessions. CBT can be effective for the following: Depression, anxiety, various phobias, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), trauma-related disorders, eating disorders, coping with medical diagnoses, grief/loss, and more. Practitioners in both the mental health and medical fields trust this treatment protocol because of the evidence for change, and at Upaya, we value this “skillful means” as well.