How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is unique because it’s an active therapy, meaning it requires an intense level of participation from both the client and their therapist to help the client learn and practice healthy coping skills and emotional responses. Some cognitive behavioral treatment plans may even require homework outside of therapy sessions.
Through cognitive therapy, our clients learn to recognize when involuntary negative thoughts (i.e., automatic thoughts) enter their minds and the triggers that bring them on. By doing this, individuals can learn to better prepare for when they get triggered and how to better handle reactions and emotions. Empathy is another important component of cognitive behavioral therapy. For example, a client may feel that their perspective is misunderstood by friends, family, and loved ones. Through discussion and examination of the client’s point of view, our clinician empathizes and connects with them, helping them to understand that their thoughts and feelings resulting from life events are valid.
Once a strong foundation is established, our cognitive behavioral therapist helps the client mentally and emotionally organize the life events that have negatively impacted their mental health. By slowly examining each client’s unique experiences and showing them the relationship between their mental health and their harmful belief system, our CBT therapists help clients start the healing process.
The Three Basic Principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
According to Dr. Aaron Beck, the three basic principles of cognitive behavioral therapy include:
- Core Beliefs: Core beliefs are firmly held beliefs that someone believes about themself, about others, and about the world. They learned these beliefs early in life and hold them as absolute. One example is an individual believing “I’m unlovable.”
- Dysfunctional Assumptions: Dysfunctional assumptions are rigid, unrealistic rules for living adopted by individuals. One example is the idea that “it’s better not to try than to risk failing.”
- Negative Automatic Thoughts: Negative automatic thoughts are thoughts that are automatically activated in challenging situations. One example of a negative automatic thought is someone thinking “My friend didn’t call me today; she’s mad at me,” without a rational basis for the thought.
Therapies That Utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
There are various types of therapy that incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy, including:
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps individuals improve their emotional health by addressing their destructive thoughts and behaviors while incorporating treatment strategies like emotional regulation and mindfulness.
- Multimodal Therapy: This therapy suggests that mental health conditions should be treated by addressing seven different but interconnected modalities: behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition/thoughts, interpersonal factors, and biological considerations.
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) helps individuals identify their self-defeating thoughts, challenge those thoughts, and replace them with more adaptive beliefs.
- Exposure Response and Prevention Therapy (ExRP): This type of exposure therapy is a specific modality of cognitive behavioral therapy that targets anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). ExRP helps individuals with anxiety disorders address their intrusive, compulsive, obsessive, and ruminating thoughts.
What Is the Evidence Behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Several studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular alternative to medication when it comes to treating mental health conditions. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that examined the efficacy of cognitive behavioral treatment across groups of patients suffering from various mental health conditions found that more significant improvement was seen in the groups that underwent cognitive behavioral therapy than in those that didn’t.
Studies also show that to treat depression, cognitive behavioral treatment can be as effective as prescription antidepressants. Unlike medication, which simply aims to eliminate the symptoms of mental health conditions, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the whole person by addressing the individual’s underlying core beliefs, dysfunctional assumptions, and negative automatic thoughts. Helping individuals identify and change their destructive thoughts and behaviors sets cognitive behavioral therapy apart from other types of talk therapy like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
CBT Techniques Utilized at Clearview
At Clearview, we utilize many specific types of talk therapy that fall under the category of cognitive behavioral therapy, depending on each client’s needs. In every case, CBT focuses on helping clients deal with their underlying thoughts that contribute to their mental illness and addiction, if applicable.
The CBT techniques we use focus on identifying and modifying distorted thinking, destructive behaviors, and negative emotional responses. Dialectical behavior therapy, a type of cognitive behavioral therapy, addresses how individuals think and behave. The CBT techniques utilized in dialectical behavior therapy include mindfulness, emotion regulation, and other techniques.
Mental Health Conditions We Treat Using CBT
Clearview Treatment Programs
At Clearview in Los Angeles, we offer several treatment programs that incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy, including the following based on each client’s needs.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center: As a premier treatment center, our Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center offers a residential treatment program for all genders struggling with addiction and a variety of mental health conditions. Our treatment team has vast expertise in treating complicated dual diagnosis cases, providing clients with the specialized treatment they need to make a complete recovery from their addiction and co-occurring mental illness.
- Outpatient Treatment Programs: Clearview’s Outpatient programs offer personalized outpatient treatment via partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) as well as intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). Our programs treat addictions, dual diagnosis, and a multitude of mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Women’s Treatment Center: Clearview Women’s Treatment Center is a specialized residential treatment center for women struggling with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and emotional dysregulation. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is the primary mode of treatment used at the Women’s Treatment Center and it’s one of the only centers like it in the country.