Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of counseling aimed at teaching the client how to become healthier and experience a more satisfying, fulfilling lifestyle by modifying certain thought and behavior patterns. It is based on the theory that negative thoughts and behaviors can affect a person’s symptoms and be an obstacle to recovery. CBT can be helpful in treating a variety of problems, including depression, anxiety and panic disorders, dealing with life event such as: death, divorce, disability, school issues, and mounting stress.In CBT, the therapist and client work together to identify and change negative thinking and behavior patterns that may contribute to emotional and/or physical illness. The focus in therapy is to alter and change these thoughts or self-talks which express one’s beliefs and perceptions. Cognitive approaches focus on replacing one thought, belief, or form of self-talk with another (e.g. my life is miserable, to I have purpose in life). Therapy also focuses on teaching the client more positive ways of thinking about and coping with not only illness but also life events and relationships.
To Provide a Simple Definition: Cognitive Counseling focuses on Monitoring and Managingyour thinking patterns. This counseling would focus on reducing negative thinking and changing the content of thoughts so that it results in more positive emotions. Behavioral Counseling focuses on what actions the client takes, what rewards are in place that encourages the client to act a certain way and what unpleasant consequences prevent the client from behaving in other ways.
The process of CBT helps the client identify and correct specific errors in what he or she is thinking that results in painful and negative feelings. These distorted thoughts influence the client on an emotional and behavioral level. In treating a person who is experiencing psychological difficulties, I find that the most effective point of intervention is at the level of the person’s thoughts that are causing pain. If changes are made in thinking process, (e.g. assumptions, beliefs, values) changes in emotions and behavior will follow. I utilize various behavioral techniques and strategies as needed to enhance the treatment outcome (e.g., anger management, meditation, relaxation training, and assertiveness training).
Unlike many traditional counseling processes, CBT focus on outcomes and goals. Results include a briefer counseling process in which the client experiences relatively rapid relief and enduring progress. CBT is a simple model and has proven to be a powerful and successful type of psychological treatment in outcome studies conducted over the past several decades.
Currently enjoying widespread popularity, CBT is practiced by many qualified professionals throughout the United States and internationally. I believe this type of counseling is most effective in dealing with individuals who are bright, rational and desire to have passion and enjoyment in their life. It is my opinion that this counseling does not work with individuals who want to stay in a victim role or spend their time blaming others for what’s not going right in their life. It takes courage and a willingness to say, “Whatever happened to me before I couldn’t do anything about, it is as it is, but now I am responsible for how I react to what has happened to me, what is happening to me and how I want to continue living my life.” The work, the effort, the fortitude of my clients continues to amaze and humble me.