Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: How It Works & What To Expect

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Central Concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Negative Thoughts and Emotions Impact Actions

CBT is primarily based on the view that their thoughts about a situation directly impact a person’s emotions and behaviors. Therefore, inaccurate or overly negative thoughts frequently result in feelings or actions that are maladaptive.

Homework Assignments

Weekly homework assignments are a crucial component of CBT. New approaches to problems are introduced during each session; these may be new alternative thoughts or new behaviors. These new thought patterns and actions must be practiced during the following week, resulting in new and more adaptive emotions and behavioral responses.

Structured Sessions

A typical CBT session is organized into three main parts, each taking up to about 20 minutes. The initial step is to establish rapport. Whether a persistent anxious mood or an action such as difficulty falling asleep is a severe concern to investigate whether the problematic behavior or attitude is a serious concern. The second significant level in a session is to organize the next topic and correlate that to the client’s current crisis. The final third and last step of the session involves planning a relevant and manageable practice exercise for the coming week and preparing for high-risk situations.

What Can CBT Help With?

CBT is not only used to address trauma but also the following challenges:

  • Addictions
  • Anger management
  • Emotion management
  • Grief and loss
  • Mental health disorders
  • Ongoing emotional trauma as a result of violence or abuse
  • Phobias
  • Relational conflicts and miscommunications
  • Stressful situations in life

Common CBT Techniques

Some of these techniques are thought focused, while others are behavior focused.

Key Questions to Ask a Therapist When Considering CBT

  • Did you go to an accredited training/educational program?
  • The number of years of clinical experience that you have?
  • How much experience do you possess when it comes to working with individuals with symptoms like mine?
  • What is the estimate of the number of sessions I will need?
  • Would you recommend CBT, or do you recommend another form of treatment?

What to Expect at Your First Appointment?

The first appointment will comprise assessing the issues for which the client seeks help, establishing a positive working relationship, and explaining how CBT will be helpful. The primary concepts of CBT will be presented, including the critical role of homework assignments, and a general description of the various techniques that can be implemented.

The client will be asked to talk about their current situation and related problems. Although CBT is present-focused, it may be necessary to provide some background information for the existing problems. This is particularly true if there is a history of mental health treatment, including outpatient psychotherapy, inpatient psychiatric care, or group/informational counseling. A therapist can design a more efficient treatment plan with the knowledge of the types of interventions that did not work well for that client.

The first appointment is used to establish a rapport between the client and the therapist.