Cognitive Behaviorial Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in plain language is thought-behavior therapy. The goal is to understand how the interplay of contexts, cues, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors interact in complex ways. Within CBT there are a plethora of tools and techniques to help guide the process (look up thought logs, behavioral chain analysis, and progressive muscle relaxation techniques).  

As an approach, CBT works very well for some and not so much for others. We are great at collaborating with you and determining the best way to approach your specific challenges. Those that tend to do well with CBT enjoy a more structured, homework-oriented, goal-directed, and non-exploratory approach to treatment. Ironically, some that are immediately drawn towards this treatment often benefit more from a psychodynamic approach. Using a rigid therapy for trouble with rigidity often compounds the problem. This is important to discuss with your psychologist. Getting in touch with lost parts of the self that are more creative, flexible, and spontaneous require a different treatment method and still solve the problem but leave a more balanced personality in the end too.  

CBT is the most amenable theoretical orientation to research (because it is easily manualized) and as a result has become one of the most empirically supported approaches to therapy. 

Its focus is on thoughts and specifically how deeply intertwined patterns of thinking and feeling co-operate together and influence behavior and overall mental health. As a result of experience, we can develop unhealthy thought-reflexes or as CBT calls them “automatic negative thoughts” or ANTS. Generating these patterns are often deeply hurt parts of us that need our loving attention. The wounds at the center are called “Core Beliefs” in CBT.  Overall, the goal is to expose and process this core while promoting insight and change into unhelpful thoughts patterns and behaviors. 



Common cognitive distortions targeted in a CBT approach are

  •  All or nothing thinking/Polarized thinking  
  •  Overgeneralization  
  •  Mental Filter 
  •  Disqualifying the positive 
  •  Jumping to conclusions – mind reading 
  •  Jumping to conclusions – fortune telling 
  •  Magnification (catastrophizing) or Minimization  
  •  Emotional Reasoning (I feel it, therefore it must be true) 
  •  Should Statements 
  •  Labeling and Mislabeling 
  •  Personalization 
  •  Control Fallacies (how much control, or not, we have over things) 
  •  Just world fallacy or the fallacy of fairness 
  •  Fallacy of Change (expecting others to change) 
  •  Belief we must always be right  
  •  Belief that our suffering and hard work will always result in a just reward 


General goals of a Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) approach include 

  • Recognizing distortions in thinking that are amplifying problems or unhealthy emotions/emotional states 
  • Re-evaluating thinking patterns to try and make them more balanced and in-line with reality 
  • Using problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations 
  • Identifying and creating interventions to decrease automatic negative thoughts 
  • Learn to develop a greater sense of confidence in one’s own abilities  
  • Facing fears directly and with an effective mindset 
  • Learning skills to calm one’s mind and body 


Research shows CBT is helpful to (Mayo Clinic, 2022): 

Manage general symptoms of mental illness or prevent a relapse of mental illness symptoms 

  • Treat a mental illness when medications aren’t a good option 
  • Learn techniques for coping with stressful life situations 
  • Identify ways to manage emotions 
  • Resolve relationship conflicts and learn better ways to communicate 
  • Cope with grief or loss 
  • Overcome emotional trauma related to abuse or violence 
  • Cope with a medical illness 
  • Manage chronic physical symptoms 


Mental health disorders that often improve with CBT include (2022): 

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Phobias 
  • PTSD 
  • Sleep disorders 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Substance use disorders 
  • Bipolar disorders 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Sexual Disorders