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Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: An Insightful Guide

Welcome to the Atlantic Behavioral Health Blog, where we’re dedicated to sharing valuable insights into various mental health treatments. Today, we delve into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a highly effective treatment approach used in addressing a range of mental health issues.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.

CBT is based on several core principles, including the notion that psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking and learned patterns of unhelpful behavior. Therapists help patients learn more helpful ways of thinking and behaving, and CBT therapists also use strategies to teach patients how to change their thinking and behavior.

Key Principles of CBT

  1. Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
  2. Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
  3. People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.

CBT treatment usually involves efforts to change thinking patterns. These strategies might include:

  • Learning to recognize one’s distortions in thinking that are creating problems, and then to reevaluate them in light of reality.
  • Gaining a better understanding of the behavior and motivation of others.
  • Using problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations.
  • Learning to develop a greater sense of confidence is one’s own abilities.

CBT treatment also usually involves efforts to change behavioral patterns. These strategies might include:

  • Facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them.
  • Using role playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others.
  • Learning to calm one’s mind and relax one’s body.

Not all CBT will use all of these strategies. Rather, the psychologist and patient work together, in a collaborative fashion, to develop an understanding of the problem and to develop a treatment strategy.

How CBT is Different

CBT is different from many other therapy approaches by focusing on the ways that a person’s cognitions (i.e., thoughts), emotions, and behaviors are connected and affect one another. This sounds simple, but it is very powerful. Because CBT is an active intervention, one can also expect to do homework or practice outside of sessions.

Conditions Typically Treated with CBT

CBT has been extensively investigated in rigorous clinical trials and has empirical support for its use in treating a variety of conditions. Some of these include:

  • Depression: CBT helps in managing negative thinking that contributes to depression and teaches skills to challenge and overcome these thoughts.
  • Anxiety Disorders: Including panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety disorder. CBT helps in understanding and changing the thought patterns that drive anxiety.
  • Substance Abuse: CBT can help individuals with substance abuse disorders learn to identify and correct problematic behaviors by applying a range of different skills that can be used to stop drug abuse and to address a range of other problems that often co-occur with it.
  • Eating Disorders: CBT can be instrumental in addressing the thought patterns and behaviors associated with eating disorders, helping individuals to develop healthier attitudes towards food and body image.
CBT offers several treatment advantages for mental health

Benefits of CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy offers several advantages as a treatment approach:

  1. Evidence-Based: CBT is one of the most researched forms of therapy, with a large body of scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness.
  2. Problem-Focused and Goal-Oriented: Therapy is targeted to specific problems and is goal-oriented, making it easier to track progress.
  3. Empowers Patients: CBT equips patients with tools and strategies to manage their mental health in the long term, fostering resilience and self-efficacy.
  4. Short-Term Treatment: Compared to other forms of therapy, CBT is generally more focused and time-limited, making it a cost-effective solution.
  5. Adaptable: It can be adapted to a wide range of cultural backgrounds and ages, and can be delivered in various formats, including individual sessions, group therapy, or online platforms.

How CBT is Conducted

CBT sessions are structured to ensure that the therapist and the patient are focused on the specific problems and goals of the patient. The therapy is usually conducted over 5 to 20 sessions, with each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes. During the sessions, the therapist and patient work together to identify and understand problems in terms of the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The approach involves the following steps:

  1. Identifying Troubling Situations or Conditions: This could include a medical condition, emotional challenges, life events, or issues in relationships.
  2. Becoming Aware of Thoughts, Emotions, and Beliefs about These Problems: Once the problems are identified, the therapist will encourage the patient to share thoughts about them.
  3. Identifying Negative or Inaccurate Thinking: The therapist helps the patient to challenge these patterns of thinking and behavior.
  4. Reshaping Negative or Inaccurate Thinking: The final step involves learning and practicing new skills, which can then be applied to daily life.

Patient Testimonials

At Atlantic Behavioral Health, we’ve seen firsthand the transformative impact of CBT. Patients often report significant improvements in their quality of life. One patient shared, “CBT has been a life-changer for me. It didn’t just help with my anxiety; it gave me tools to handle life’s ups and downs more effectively.” Such testimonials are a testament to the empowering nature of CBT.

Getting Started with CBT at Atlantic Behavioral Health

If you or someone you know is considering CBT, Atlantic Behavioral Health is here to help. Our first step is conducting a thorough assessment to understand your unique needs and to determine if CBT is the right approach for you. We then match you with a therapist who specializes in the type of CBT that is best suited to your situation. Our therapists are not just experts in their field; they are compassionate individuals committed to providing the best care.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a proven, effective means of treating a variety of mental health issues. Its structured, goal-oriented approach, combined with its emphasis on developing self-help strategies, makes it a practical tool for anyone looking to overcome psychological challenges. At Atlantic Behavioral Health, we are proud to offer CBT as part of our comprehensive mental health services, helping our patients achieve better mental health and improved quality of life.

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can work towards a healthier, happier you.

Want to learn more?

Call us today to learn more about CBT and how this type of therapy can be effective for many of the behavioral health issues we treat.

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