Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic treatment that can help you identify harmful thought patterns that lead you to engage in dysfunctional behaviors and toxic emotions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to raise awareness of those automatic thoughts, resulting in depressive symptoms, anxiety, and other health mental conditions that hinder our ability to function.
The CBT therapist helps us put these thoughts or beliefs into perspective, challenging them and thus changing them for more realistic and objective ones. As a result, we get closer to having a more enjoyable life.
Unlike other therapies, CBT is a short-term treatment that provides tools to solve your current problems rather than focusing solely on the past.
Today, this is one of the most well-studied types of psychotherapeutic treatment. Its effectiveness has been proven in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse.
Below we’ll review the different forms of cognitive behavioral therapy, the benefits, and the challenges you can expect from this treatment.
What Are the Different Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
CBT encompasses a number of techniques that address modifying your inaccurate or distorted patterns of thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviors. These include:
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
This type of CBT treatment addresses thoughts and behaviors to help you live in the present moment. The goal of DBT is to offer you techniques to cope with stress, regulate your emotions, and improve your personal relationships.
This type of CBT suggests that psychological and emotional disorders should be treated by focusing on different modalities: affect, behavior, imagery, sensation, cognition, drug/biological considerations, and interpersonal factors.
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)
This type of CBT aims to identify inaccurate beliefs by challenging them to recognize and change these negative thought patterns.
Each type of cognitive behavioral therapy approaches our psychological conditions and struggles differently.
However, they all focus on addressing the underlying thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to our emotional distress.
What Are the Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques?
CBT techniques offered during these sessions focus on helping us identify thought patterns and offering strategies to overcome them.
Techniques may include role-playing, journaling, relaxation techniques, and practicing new skills.
Identifying negative thoughts
The first step of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach us that external events are not responsible for our psychological and emotional problems but rather our interpretation of them.
Our thoughts and emotions contribute to dysfunctional behavior. While identifying these negative thoughts is not always an easy task, it will lead to important insights contributing to treatment success.
Practicing new skills
But identifying our negative thoughts is not enough to improve our emotional and psychological well-being. It is also essential to practice new skills put into real-world situations.
For example, if you suffer from social anxiety, you need to develop ways to cope with scenarios that may trigger your symptoms.
If you want to practice new skills to improve your mental health and lifestyle, you must have clear goals. During CBT, the therapist will teach you how to identify your short and long-term goals and focus on the process as well as the final outcome.
The therapist will also teach you problem-solving skills to help you identify and solve everyday challenges that arise from life stressors, thus reducing the negative impact of psychological symptoms.
Problem-solving in CBT usually involves these five steps:
- Identifying your problem
- Creating a list of possible solutions
- Evaluating the strengths and disadvantages of each potential solution
- Choosing a proper solution to execute
- Executing the solution
Self-monitoring or diary work is an essential part of CBT. This technique involves tracking symptoms, behaviors, and experiences to provide your therapist with the information required to offer you the best treatment.
For example, for people coping with depression, self-monitoring involves keeping track of pleasurable activities as well as any thoughts or feelings related to them.
What Are the Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy explains that our thoughts and emotions play an essential role in shaping our behavior.
For example, if you spend most of your time thinking about car accidents and feeling distressed about them, you’ll probably avoid driving as a result.
This therapy aims to teach us that we cannot influence external circumstances but can control how we interpret and deal with our environment.
Some of the benefits of CBT are the following:
- It allows you to engage in more beneficial thinking patterns by identifying the harmful and often unrealistic beliefs and thoughts that impact your feelings and behavior.
- It is a short-term and evidence-based therapy that has shown positive effects after five to twenty sessions.
- CBT is effective for a wide range of dysfunctional behaviors such as anxiety disorders, anger control problems, and overall stress.
- It is more affordable and accessible than other types of treatments.
- It is as effective online as in-person.
And most importantly, one of the greatest benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it teaches us coping skills that can be helpful both now and in the future.
What Are the Challenges of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
The potential challenges you may encounter during cognitive behavioral therapy are the following:
- Change can be difficult: Recognizing that your negative thoughts are irrational or dysfunctional is not enough to improve your mental health. Change requires you to restructure your psyche to act differently from how you’ve been functioning until now, which is not an easy task.
- CBT is a structured therapy: Unlike other forms of therapy, such as psychoanalysis, CBT does not focus on the unconscious resistances behind our suffering. It is, therefore, suitable for clients who are comfortable with a more structured and focused approach where the therapist takes a directive role rather than being a passive listener.
- You must be willing to make an effort to change: To achieve effective results, you must be willing to put time, effort, and energy into analyzing your thought patterns and feelings. Self-analysis can be uncomfortable, but it is the most effective way to discover how your internal states affect your external behavior.
- Progress is gradual: Behavior change is a gradual process that requires a few steps to approach the final goal. Although it is not as long as psychoanalysis, patience is still needed to achieve long-term wellness.
Is Online Therapy Effective?
In an ideal world, whenever we feel distressed, lost, or in pain, we should have the necessary support and assistance at hand to overcome our problems.
But the reality is that booking professional counseling can take a long time, not to mention that it can be a luxury rather than a necessity for most clients.
That is why online therapy is a great alternative to help you receive proper treatment remotely. Researchers have found that CBT online sessions produced an equivalent positive effect compared to in-person therapy.
The benefits of online therapy include:
- Accessibility: Therapy requires you to attend several monthly sessions, which is not very convenient for most people. If you suffer from social anxiety, have a changing work schedule, or simply a hectic lifestyle, going to therapy can end up being a burden rather than a solution. In addition, finding a face-to-face therapist can be a lengthy process that must be repeated if you don't feel comfortable with the one you're seeing. That's why starting therapy online is more accessible, taking just a few minutes to contact a new therapist that suits your preferences, thanks to the wide variety of professionals available.
- Convenience: Online therapy can also be more convenient than in-person sessions. Online counseling sessions allow you to attend your appointments from home or anywhere you prefer; over text or audio messages. You don't have to worry about traveling to the therapist's office, saving you a lot of time and energy in the process.
- Effectiveness: Some people have the misconception that online therapy is not as effective as in-person therapy, which is not the case. Numerous studies have concluded that the results are equally successful in both types of treatment for addressing different types of mental illnesses.
In addition, online therapy is more affordable than in-person treatment and provides anonymity if you so desire.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an evidence-based, short-term form of psychotherapeutic treatment.
The underlying theory of this approach states that our dysfunctional thought patterns and negative interpretation of our experiences are responsible for our mental distress.
The different types of cognitive therapy can be used for depression, anxiety, and PTSD, among other mental health conditions.
All types of CBT can be conducted online to provide you with the convenience and comfort to restore a sense of well-being in your life.
Our network of qualified mental health professionals can help you start online therapy and work through the negative consequences of your thinking patterns. Online therapy will help you identify and better understand your dysfunctional beliefs, as well as modify your behavior and approach to your daily challenges.