Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) Explained

Changing Minds with CBT

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) Explained

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a method of psychological treatment, often referred to as psychotherapy/talk therapy, which research proves effective for treating a range of life, relationship, or mental health issues including depression, anxiety disorders, behavioral disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, and relationship issues.   

CBT techniques learned and practiced in therapy can be used along with medications to help manage mental health symptoms and improve interpersonal relationships. A wealth of scientific evidence supports the therapeutic use of CBT and its effectiveness. 

If you are ready to learn more about cognitive behavior therapy, read on!

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is designed to teach you to identify unhelpful thinking patterns that contribute to distressing emotions and behaviors that are harmful to your well-being and/or contribute to interpersonal relationship problems. The focus of this treatment approach is on expanding your ability to modify thinking, retrain the brain to react in new ways to old stimuli, improve emotions, and modify behaviors harmful to you or others. CBT is one of many treatment options for people suffering from psychological conditions or relationship problems. This method of treatment has been backed by a significant amount of research evidence and shows great promise for treating even more conditions.

The core tenets or principles of CBT are:

  1. Psychological problems are often rooted in unhealthy thought patterns or ways of assessing situations and people.
  2. Psychological problems are often based on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
  3. Individuals experiencing relationship problems psychological conditions can learn healthier patterns of thinking and behavior. These improved thoughts and behaviors can help treat and control many psychological symptoms, improving your daily life and relationships.

How Do I Know if CBT is Right for Me?

This is a common question asked by individuals struggling with psychological conditions that are not well-managed with other treatments, or who are experiencing relationship problems. Here are some key things to think about when considering CBT.

  • Are you comfortable talking about your problems in-depth with someone else?
    The key to CBT success is finding the root of thought patterns that are not helpful and behaviors that are distressing to oneself or others. If you are not comfortable talking about past traumas, things you feel embarrassed about, other mental health challenges, or relationship problems; or willing to engage in discussions with a therapist to challenge your thinking and behaviors, you may not benefit from CBT.
  • Are you willing to work on CBT over an extended period? Unlike medication that can start to work in a few days or weeks, CBT can take weeks or months to be effective. CBT is based on learning to identify faulty thinking patterns, retraining your brain’s initial reactions and retraining behavioral response patterns.
  • Do you recognize a clear problem that needs to be solved? CBT involves your ability to self-identify patterns of thinking and behaviors that are distressing to you, or your willingness to change thoughts and behaviors others have told you about. Examples may include problems in communicating with others, rigid points of view with limited ability to compromise, issues with anger, or addiction. CBT requires you to have enough self-awareness to name your challenges and a desire and willingness to work toward change. If you are not willing to change your thinking and behaviors, you will probably not benefit from CBT.

How Many Sessions of CBT Will I Need?

There is no set limit or expectation for CBT treatment. Every treatment progression is unique based on your individual needs. Treatment can involve a short-term approach of just a few therapy sessions, to a longer-term approach that may include 12 or more sessions, depending on your individual progress.

On average, most patients participate in CBT therapy anywhere from six months to a year. Others desire or need monthly refresher appointments to help support and sustain change. One reason CBT is so successful is that it is based on individual need and progress, rather than a set timeframe or with a one-size-fits-all approach.

Consider asking your primary doctor about psychotherapy and CBT. Most primary care doctors will know who to refer you to for this kind of care. If you’re comfortable with people knowing you are considering therapy, ask friends, family members, or coworkers if they have any recommendations. Take time to call local providers and ask questions about the services they offer, or visit provider websites.

Therapists at Dakota Family Services are trained to provide CBT and several other therapy modalities. Their mental health professionals see clients in person in Fargo and Minot, ND, and throughout North Dakota via telehealth. They will work with you to provide the right combination of psychotherapy approaches to best meet your needs.

CBT Can Change Your Life

If you are struggling with mental health symptoms, relationship issues due to communication challenges, moods, anger problems, or behaviors you want to change, consider exploring Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It is an effective way to retrain your brain to respond in healthy ways to daily events, interactions, and internal dialogue.

Learning to retrain your brain to respond to the world in a healthy way can be very beneficial, especially if you have been unable to get relief for psychological concerns and relationship issues through traditional treatment modalities. CBT is a very effective and productive means of supporting your mental health and psychological well-being.

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Dakota Family Services

This content was reviewed by the mental health clinicians at Dakota Family Services, a group of compassionate, practiced experts providing outpatient care for children, adolescents, and adults with behavioral health concerns.

Dakota Family Services is a highly trusted and respected outpatient clinic providing psychology, psychiatry, and therapy in North Dakota. Our community of compassionate mental health professionals help children, adolescents, and adults improve their overall mental health and well-being through a personalized approach, trusted expertise, and unconditional presence. We offer in-office counseling in Fargo and Minot and online therapy for those who prefer to meet from the comfort of their own home. To schedule an appointment, or to learn more, call 800-201-6495.