As the name suggests, cognitive behavioral therapy works by teaching a person to change their thoughts (cognition) and their behaviors. The aim is to assess the negative thoughts a person is having about themselves, and their view of the world, and to replace them with more positive and constructive thoughts and behaviors. By addressing the thoughts and behaviors which contribute to the development and maintenance of problems, CBT seeks to offer a holistic approach to mental health care.
In its simplest form, CBT requires only two things: learning and doing. A person undertaking CBT will learn coping skills and techniques, both ones that are pertinent to their health issue, and more general ones that will help with everyday life. They will learn about their health condition, and how it is being maintained. This aspect of CBT is founded on the adage that knowledge is power. The more someone knows about their own disorder, the better equipped they will be to recognize its symptoms and do something about it.
With this knowledge, a person will then be equipped to actively change their behaviors. They will be able to face their fears, or to deal with situations that they were previously unable to deal with. CBT seeks to enforce this relationship between knowledge and activity, in order for a person to take practical steps to alleviate their symptoms and to recover.
CBT is suitable for children and adults. It is used to improve and manage various types of mental disorders and symptoms, including:
post-traumatic stress disorder
obsessive compulsive disorder
child and adolescent issues
CBT techniques are beneficial for just about everyone, including people with no form of mental illness but who have chronic stress, poor moods and habits they would like to work on.
It is important to note that, through the first few sessions, your therapist will assess the usefulness and viability of CBT for you, and will check that you are comfortable with it.
The homework aspect of CBT is one of the most vital parts of the process, so it is imperative that you actually practice the tasks set for your homework. You will learn, through undertaking the set tasks, to think positively, and challenge yourself to cope with situations.