Cognitive Behavioral Therapy



The cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) represents a combination of behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. Behavioural therapy focuses on the connection between an individual behavior, thoughts and problems. On the other hand, psychotherapy focuses on the impact of meaning we place on our past experiences. CBT can be defined as an approach that uses structured, goal-oriented approach to problem-solving. CBT builds on skills that enable a person understand their emotions and thoughts and determine how thoughts influence our emotion and how we could we can change dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors (Cully & Teten, 2008).   Its aim is to the change the behaviors that are responsible for people’s difficulties to what how they feel. CBT is commonly used in treating various problems in a person’s life including anxiety, depression, drug abuse and relationship issues. CBT works by changing people attitude and behaviors by focusing on our beliefs, attitudes and images and how it affects our emotions (Curwen, Palmer & Ruddell, 2000).  CBT is based on the assumptions that it is not the events that upset an individual but rather the meaning we give to those events. If we are too negative, this can prevent us from doing something that can disconfirm what we thought was true. 

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This theory was chosen because it aims at treating various problems of vulnerability development-oriented strategies and avoids multiple intervention pathways.  CBT is rooted in the fundamental principle that people’s cognitions play a significant role in the development and maintenance of emotional and behavioral response (Butler & Beck, 2000). CBT has shown to be effective in treating mental health issues such as anxiety disorder, depression, drug use disorder and bipolar disorder. This theory is relevant to mental health because a therapist can use it to help the clients change their way of thinking in order to change the way they feel and behave about things. This approach is structured, where the therapist takes an active role. It also involves plans and task assignments aimed at implementing plans and practicing skills after a therapy session (Robinson, 2008).  

The goal of therapy

The main goal of therapy is to assist the client to understand that in order to reorganize the way they view situations, they need to reorganize their behaviors (Roth, Eng,& Heimberg, 2002). In therapy, the client learns how to recognize, observe and monitor their own thoughts and assumptions. Once the clients recognize how negativity affects them, they learn how to weigh evidence against these thoughts.

Role of Therapist

A therapist uses various therapeutic strategies based on what would work for the client. The therapist also delegates roles to the client expecting them to do homework after the therapy session. The client is assigned a task that is aimed at impacting positive behavior that brings about changes in emotions and attitude (Corey, 2005). They also engage in dialogues with the clients asking questions to encourage self-examination to help the client achieve their goal.  


CBT approach typically incorporated various approaches such as REBT and Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy aims at showing clients how their thoughts affect their behaviors and attitude feelings and help them to learn how they can change their cognitions to attain a more meaningful life (Hope et al., 2000).  Cognitive therapy is based on the assumption that our psychological problems are caused by cognitive distortions due to our acknowledged human weakness (Sanders & Wills, 2005). This approach can be used for clients suffering from depression. In the case of depressed people, these assumptions or beliefs develop from negative experiences from tragic experiences, loss of loved ones or rejection. The negative past experiences are responsible for the development of irrational beliefs about situations.  One of the techniques used is alternative therapy and it focuses on coping options (Field, 2000). The therapist encourages the clients to come up with alternative solutions to their situations which might render them helpless. Allowing the client to brainstorm makes the client realize they have the ability to control the situation after all. 

REBT was based on the assumption that our emotions are created from our beliefs which influences how we react to situations (David, Lynn & Ellis, 2010). REBT has many therapeutic techniques that are used: one of them is ABC’s of feelings, behaviors and emotions. ABC is another tool used by REBT therapists. This tool helps in understanding the clients feelings, thoughts and behaviours. A refers to the activating event, B is the beliefs we have concerning the event and C refers the emotional effect or the reaction of an individual. For instance, if a person experiences depression as a result of traumatic experience, the traumatic experience may not be the reason for depression reaction but rather the person’s beliefs on the experience. D refers to the therapist who is disputing intervention that helps the clients challenge irrational beliefs. E is developing effective responses which have a practical side and, F is having a new feeling about the event. A therapist assesses the client’s situation and hypothesis how to apply ABC by teaching REBT philosophy. Then, the therapist shows how the clients’ problem fits in this approach and the way of changing the process and reinforcing change happens after the client terminates the relationship of reaction to the irrational thought.  

Expectation of the Client

I expect the client to be able to identify the distortions in their thoughts, note down important points of the therapy session and devise the task assignments. As a therapist, my role is to ensure that the client participates in self-discovery. Lasting changes will only occur when the client participate in the process.

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  1. Butler, A. C., & Beck, J. S. (2000). Cognitive therapy outcomes: A review of meta-analyses. Journal of the Norwegian Psychological Association, 37, 1-9.
  2. Corey, G. (2005). Theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy. (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
  3. Cully, J.A., & Teten, A.L. (2008). A Therapist’s Guide to Brief Cognitive. Behavioral Therapy. Department of Veterans Affairs South Central MIRECC, Houston.
  4. Curwen, B.,  Palmer, S &  Ruddell, P. (2000). Brief cognitive behavior therapy. Sage Publications Ltd, London.
  5. David, D., Lynn, S., & Ellis. A. (2010). Rational and irrational beliefs. Implications for research, theory, and practice. New York, NY : Oxford University Press.
  6. Field, T. (2000). Touch Therapy. New York: Churchill Livingstone.
  7. Hope, D. A., Heimberg, R. G., Juster, H., & Turk, C. L. (2000). Managing social anxiety: A cognitive-behavioral therapy approach (client workbook). San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.
  8. Robinson, G. (2008). Late-modern rehabilitation: The evolution of a penal strategy. Punishment and Society, 10, 429-445.
  9. Roth, D.A., Eng, W & Heimberg, R.G.  (2002). Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  Retrieved from
  10. Sanders, D., & Wills, F. (2005). Cognitive therapy: An introduction. (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
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