How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy refers to a therapy discipline that involves aspects of both behavioral and cognitive therapy. The therapy may include a variety of approaches and systems all designed to do more or less the same thing: challenge the patient’s views (which are distorted and thus leading to debilitating behaviors) and help them learn ways to cope with stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy attempts to go beyond the simple coping mechanism education of most clinics; doctors are more interested in helping the patient conquer their fears rather than avoid precarious situations or medicate patients.

What are some commonly suggested techniques for CBT? Gradual exposure therapy involves slowly and methodically exposing the patient to well known fears. Systematic desensitization is along the same vein, but often deals more with simulated situations and the thought processes of the patient.

Other techniques used in CBT may include having the patient keep a diary of feelings and events, questioning beliefs that are unreasonable, and experimenting with new defense mechanisms, as well as new reactions to stress. In addition to these techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy might also include having the patient keep up relaxation exercises and even learn some distraction techniques for coping.

This form of therapy has proven to be very effective in treating some personality disorders including generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. Some in the medical community have even suggested it is far more effective than pharmacological treatments in the long term. Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective treatment against most types of disorders, provided drugs or alcohol do not alter the person’s state of mind to unnatural levels. This also applies to other cases in which external elements play a large part.

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