What Is CBT?
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people learn to think,
feel and behave in a way that will reduce the symptoms contributing to their
overwhelming anxiety. The client learns to react differently to the situations
and physical sensations that trigger panic and other anxiety. CBT also helps to
identify, challenge and modify irrational beliefs. This helps patients to
separate realistic from unrealistic fears. As the patient learns to challenge how
he/she perceives anxiety, the less likely he/she is to experience them. This
awareness is combined with behavioral coping techniques such as exposure and
response prevention to help the individual to confront their feared or avoided
CBT is a goal oriented, structured, briefer type of psychotherapy. Patient and
therapist collaborate in understanding and changing ways of thinking/perceiving
situations that lead to emotional distress.
Even though a sound therapeutic relationship is necessary for good therapy, it is
not the focus.
CBT is derived from both scientific and clinical venues and based on the premise
that thoughts and behaviors are learned and can be unlearned. As a result
patients can also learn new ways of perceiving and behaving in anxiety provoking
An important aspect of the CBT process is the assignment of homework in between
sessions. Patients participate actively both, in assessing their own problems by
self-monitoring and practicing newly learned skills in real life situations.
Examples of homework tasks are: behavioral experiments, in vivo self-exposure,
Finally, when terminating therapy, patients are taught relapse prevention. That
is, how to be prepared to cope with future adverse circumstances or potentially
problematic situations without reverting to the use of maladaptive behavioral
styles. Patients are encouraged to contact the therapist for booster sessions
should relapse occur.