Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Aaron T. Beck, MD, and Albert Ellis, PhD, are considered among the pioneers of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. However, several schools of CBT have been developed since. Research has shown CBT to be highly effective for depression and anxiety, and has high success rates with trauma. For this reason, it has become one of the most widely practiced modes of therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy generally proposes that a situation itself does not lead to a person’s emotions and behavior. Rather, it is the person’s thoughts or beliefs (cognitions) about a situation that lead to the emotional reaction (depression, anxiety, etc). As such, CBT believes that emotional distress such as anxiety or depression occurs when a person has a pattern of distorted or irrational thoughts about situations. Although the thoughts that lead to depression or anxiety can be based on an immediate situation, they can also be related to certain specific situations (work, relationships) or life in general.
In session, CBT works to elicit a person’s distorted or irrational thoughts about the situations that cause depression and/or anxiety. Once elicited, therapy works to challenge those thoughts and help the person develop healthier and more appropriate ways of thinking about those situations. CBT can also help a person understand the origin of the distorted or irrational thoughts, and address those experiences as well.
There are several reasons why people enjoy working with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Unlike older modes of therapy, it is focused primarily on present problems and does not require much exploration of past issues. Similarly, it is solution focused rather than seeking to develop insight to past experiences. It also tends to focus on one or a few key issues rather than meander around several life events.