CBT treatment is different from long-term psychotherapies such as psychodynamic treatment. The relationship between therapist and patient is collaborative, the treatment goals are clear, and the process offers cognitive and behavioral strategies designed to accomplish treatment goals.
In the CBT model, the treatment focuses on both cognition and behavior to alleviate emotional pain. Different aspects of cognition to be examined include automatic thoughts, thought patterns, and cognitive schema. Treatment starts by identifying a person’s rigid and dominant thoughts and thought patterns. Automatic thoughts are monitored and recorded. These recorded thoughts are examined to detect distortions. Thought patterns are involved in how information is perceived and processed. Faulty thought patterns can lead to a distortion of reality and can cause the distressing emotional reactions that follow. Throughout the therapy process, these patterns are challenged and modified. The ultimate goal is to change the underlying beliefs and cognitive schema that result in anxiety or depression.
Behavioral activation is a significant component of any effective CBT-based treatment. Any behaviors that support and reinforce a person’s maladaptive thinking are identified. A series of behavioral interventions are then designed to promote actions and goal-oriented behaviors.
Different types of CBT have evolved over the years, including Rational Emotive Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Dialectic Behavior Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based CBT.