What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & How CBT Works

Cognitive-behavioral therapy works wonders.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) & Who Is It For? Getty 

If you’ve been wondering how to deal with depression and anxiety, or other mental health issues, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be your answer.

Depression and anxiety can do some serious damage to your mental health and wellbeing. 

These issues can damage your mood, cause you to spiral out into negative thinking, and lead you to make some pretty damaging life choices. 

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

According to Merriam Webster, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy definition is: "Psychotherapy that combines cognitive therapy with behavior therapy by identifying faulty or maladaptive patterns of thinking, emotional response, or behavior and substituting them with desirable patterns of thinking, emotional response, or behavior.”


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CBT Therapy is a short-term, focused psychotherapy that addresses a wide range of psychological problems that create destabilizing issues for those suffering with depression, anxiety, uncontrollable mood, marital conflict, loneliness, panic, fears, eating disorders, substance abuse, alcohol abuse/dependence, and personality problems.


CBT therapy is a form of psychotherapy developed by Aaron T. Beck that treats problems and boosts happiness by altering dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.

This type of cognitive therapy utilizes a therapeutic approach that focuses on helping individuals and families identify unhealthy ways of thinking that can affect behavior.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on the here and now, rather than past negative experiences.

For optimal treatment options, the patient typically partners with their therapist to identify maladaptive thinking or specific distortions preventing positive change.

A cognitive assessment tool used by the therapist helps the patient identify biases and maladaptive thinking with ‘change talk,’ which is conversation that promotes a change in thinking and behavior.


Originally, CBT was designed as a depression treatment, but its use has been expanded to include treatment of a number of mental health conditions, including anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques allow patients to be involved and in control of their treatment.

Patients will learn how to develop the skills needed to address both current and future challenges.

CBT offers symptom identification, developing possible techniques, skill-building, and homework assignments that encourage patients to change negative thinking and behaviors that often lead to anxiety and depression.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is action-oriented, practical, rational, and helps the patient gain independence and effectiveness in dealing with real-life issues.


A few examples of CBT techniques include:

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One important part of CBT is helping clients change their unhelpful thinking and behavior that lead to enduring improvement in their mood and functioning.

For those dealing with anxiety or wondering how to fight depression, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be a life-changing solution for better mental health.

CBT can be used to benefit a number of people and aliments, such as people struggling with mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. Many people who would like to address dysfunctional thinking can benefit from CBT to challenge negative thinking to promote effective change.


CBT works well for people who do not want to focus on the past but concentrate on both the current and the future. Success has also been shown when treating dysfunctional families, as a change in one part of the family can create change within the entire family.

Rather than dwelling on issues of the past which cannot be changed, those receiving a CBT approach to treatment can focus on changing their thought pattern and behavior to shape their future.

For those wondering how to overcome depression, or how to get rid of anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques can make a big difference.


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Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford is a psychologist who specializes in the challenges of mental illness and its ability to affect normal functioning. You can find more of her advice on mental health and wellness by visiting her on Twitter