The Components of Cognitive Behavior Therapy

People often experience thoughts or feelings that reinforce or compound faulty beliefs. Such beliefs can result in problematic behaviors that can affect numerous life areas, including family, romantic relationships, work, and academics.

For example, a person suffering from low self-esteem might experience negative thoughts about his or her own abilities or appearance. As a result of these negative thinking patterns, the individual might start avoiding social situations or pass up opportunities for advancement at work or at school.

In order to combat these destructive thoughts and behaviors, a cognitive-behavioral therapist begins by helping the client to identify the problematic beliefs. This stage, known as functional analysis, is important for learning how thoughts, feelings, and situations can contribute to maladaptive behaviors.5 The process can be difficult, especially for patients who struggle with introspection, but it can ultimately lead to self-discovery and insights that are an essential part of the treatment process.

The second part of cognitive behavior therapy focuses on the actual behaviors that are contributing to the problem. The client begins to learn and practice new skills that can then be put in to use in real-world situations. For example, a person suffering from drug addiction might start practicing new coping skills and rehearsing ways to avoid or deal with social situations that could potentially trigger a relapse.

In most cases, CBT is a gradual process that helps a person take incremental steps towards a behavior change. Someone suffering from social anxiety might start by simply imagining himself in an anxiety-provoking social situation.

Next, the client might start practicing conversations with friends, family, and acquaintances. By progressively working toward a larger goal, the process seems less daunting and the goals easier to achieve.



The Process of Cognitive Behavior Therapy


  • During the process of CBT, the therapist tends to take a very active role.

  • CBT is highly goal-oriented and focused, and the client and therapist work together as collaborators toward the mutually established goals.

  • The therapist will typically explain the process in detail and the client will often be given homework to complete between sessions.

  • Cognitive-behavior therapy can be effectively used as a short-term treatment centered on helping the client deal with a very specific problem.



Uses of Cognitive Behavior Therapy


Cognitive behavior therapy has been used to treat people suffering from a wide range of disorders, including:


  • Anxiety

  • Phobias

  • Depression

  • Addictions

  • Eating disorders

  • Panic attacks

  • Anger