The Key to Your Success

Cognitive Therapy was first created by Albert Ellis and then became popular as a theory by Aaron Beck. Dr. Beck was one of the first therapists to suggest that how you think about things and situations affects your feelings and behaviors. Dr. Beck believing that depression was due to a patient’s interpretation of situations, he viewed a patient’s mood as being less pathological and more a result of a pattern of negative thinking. Dr. Beck developed Cognitive Therapy as a method whereby the therapist helps the client identify their negative thoughts and teaches them to replace negative thoughts with neutral ones.

Now known as CBT, it is a combination of cognitive therapy (examining the way you think) and behavior therapy (examining how you do things). CBT is a type of talking treatment that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect how you feel and behave. In CBT, you learn various coping skills for how to look at and deal with different problems.

At the start of CBT, your treatment will focus on helping you cope with your current problems. As your treatment progresses, you will also examine the root of your issues. What happened in your childhood that causes you to think such negative thoughts? For example, did you receive negative feedback from your parents or from teachers in the past that contribute to your thinking, “I’m not good enough?” Over time, such thoughts become automatic and affect how you perceive yourself in all areas of your life. You must learn to see the bigger patterns of your life and new ways to look at yourself and your life.

Different from other types of therapy, CBT requires you take an active role and do homework. A typical CBT session starts with a status check on your mood, a review of any homework and setting an agenda for the current session. Throughout the session you may review CBT forms where you will record your negative thoughts, identify possible errors in your thinking and to come up with new thoughts to replace your old ones. Once you learn how to unlock your negative thoughts and to replace them with neutral thoughts, you can produce a positive change in your mood. CBT requires you to practice these skills in between sessions to strengthen your positive thoughts. In many ways CBT is similar to exercise for your brain. You become stronger with repetition and use of the techniques.

What is helpful about CBT to clients is that you learn the skills to be able to improve first with a therapist and then on your own. For the most part, CBT treatment is brief, which makes it more cost-effective. When CBT is combined with other empirically tested treatments and/or medication treatment as prescribed, it is believed to be the best treatment of choice for most, if not all, psychological conditions.