Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also referred to as CBT, is one of the most popular forms of psychotherapy. In CBT sessions, a patient works with the therapist to identify and stop negative thought patterns.

A Brief History of CBT

Developed in the 60s by Dr. Aaron T. Beck, CBT stemmed from traditional psychotherapeutic practices at the time. Dr. Beck recognized that automatic and negative thoughts often appeared in patients with mental disorders such as depression. He realized that what was missing in the traditional approach was some tool whereby the patient could stop engaging in this negative thinking.

CBT has evolved since its early days with Dr. Beck, with many researchers developing new ways in which to apply it as an intervention. CBT now has a long track record of helping those with a wide range of mental health issues.

Who CBT Helps

CBT helps patients who engage in constant, negative thought patterns that interfere with their quality of life. These thoughts can include but are not limited to the following:

  • My life isn’t worth living.
  • I’m a phony, and the people around me know it.
  • My body is not good enough.
  • I am not good enough.
  • Something horrible will happen if I don’t do this.
  • Everyone hates me.
  • I’m on the edge of catastrophe.

There is hope for anyone engaging in this type of negative ideation. Working with one of our CBT therapists can be the answer.

Who Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help?

Originally intended to help those with depression, CBT has evolved over the years and is now used by therapists to address a number of conditions. The following are just some of the mental health disorders CBT can treat.

CBT for Depression

CBT has been shown to have significant benefits for those with depression. Even in some severe cases, CBT can be as effective as medication in treating this mental health problem. It can also help prevent relapses.


Medication is often used to treat children with ADHD, something which makes many parents uncomfortable. Developing research has shown that CBT can be a good alternative.

CBT for Anxiety

CBT is viewed by many as the gold standard for treating those with anxiety disorders. The simple act of replacing anxious thoughts with more positive thoughts goes a long way with these patients. CBT can help those with GAD, phobias, and even help address panic attacks.

CBT and Trauma

Significant trauma can lead to episodes of grief or the development of conditions such as mood disorders and PTSD. CBT helps halt the automatic thoughts associated with these conditions. CBT also helps patients react more positively to triggers associated with their initial trauma. Traumas helped by CBD can include war, sexual assault, and abuse.


Someone with OCD is plagued by automatic thoughts that interfere with their quality of life. As such, CBT is an effective therapy for those with this disorder. One subtype of CBT, known as exposure therapy, can be particularly effective.

CBT for Insomnia

Obsessive or negative ideation can keep people up at night. The exhaustion that results from missed sleep can exacerbate negative ideation, as well. CBT helps people with insomnia calm their thinking so that they get the rest they need to thrive. While patients with insomnia learn to apply the principles of CBT, they may require medication to help with sleep in the interim.

Techniques Used in CBT

CBT involves a number of different techniques to address negative thinking. Which technique works best for a patient depends on their condition. The therapist teaches the patient theses techniques in session, and the patient then applies them in real life. The following are some of the techniques used in CBT.

Identifying Distorted Thinking

Patients with distorted thinking catastrophize small events. As an example, being late for work may result in the patient thinking they will lose their job and become homeless. A patient learns to identify these thoughts as distorted as a way to neutralize their effect.

Being Kind to Yourself

Patients can also learn to treat themselves as well as they would treat a friend. When negative thoughts strike, the patient reminds himself to be as kind to himself in his ideas as he would be to loved one.


Patients often need to create space in their minds for their therapeutic work. Journaling and writing down thoughts can be a good way to free the mind while also reinforcing new practices.

Exposure Therapy

Those with OCD or anxieties and phobias often turn to exposure therapy, a subtype of CBT. Patients with these disorders often think they need to execute a task in order to stave off disaster, or else believe certain acts will cause scenarios that are actually out-of-proportion to reality. Through exposure therapy, the patient slowly and surely experiences that these acts do not lead to disaster.

Practicing Gratitude

Practicing gratitude can help some patients stop negative thinking. Patients might work on identifying a number of positive things in their lives each day, then transcribing them in detail. This practice gives less space in the mind to negative ideation.