Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy based on modifying assumptions, beliefs and behaviors, with the aim of influencing emotions. CBT has become widely used to treat various kinds of neuroses and psychopathologies, including relationship problems, drug and alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety disorders.
The particular therapeutic techniques vary according to the client or issue, but commonly include keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviors; questioning and testing understandings, attitudes, assumptions, evaluations and beliefs that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting. Relaxation and distraction techniques are also commonly included. CBT is used for many disorders and psychological problems. It is sometimes used with groups of people as well as individuals, and the techniques are also commonly adapted for self-help manuals and, increasingly, for self-help software packages.
The earliest form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy was developed by Albert Ellis (1913-2007) in the early 1950s. Ellis eventually called his approach Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, or REBT, as a reaction against popular psychoanalytic methods at the time. Aaron T Beck independently developed another CBT approach, called Cognitive Therapy, in the 1960s. In recent years, cognitive and behavioral techniques have often been combined into cognitive behavioral treatment. This is arguably the primary type of psychological treatment being studied in research today.
CBT has a good evidence base in terms of its effectiveness in reducing symptoms and preventing relapse. It has been clinically demonstrated in over 400 studies to be effective for many psychiatric disorders and medical problems for both children and adolescents. It has been recommended as a treatment of choice for a number of mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorder, bulimia and clinical depression.
Clients generally attend a session a week, each session lasting about 50 minutes, for three to six months. During this time, the client and therapist work together to understand what the problems are and to develop a new strategy for tackling them.