Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an active therapy in which a person learns to look differently at problematic situations and to deal with them differently. In this therapy, the behaviour and thoughts that sustain the problems are discussed and treated.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a combination of two forms of psychotherapy: cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy. The patient’s cognitions are central: his thoughts, fantasies, memories and his views on events. In this treatment, you gain insight in your own thinking patterns: you examine how your own thoughts are associated with your own feelings and behaviour. Then you learn how to redirect thoughts that give unwanted feelings to thoughts that entail desired feelings.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly suitable as treatment for:
- Anxiety disorders.
- Mild depressions.
- Eating disorders (such as bulimia nervosa).
- Alcohol addiction.
- Impulse and psychosomatic problems, such as fatigue, (head)ache, panic and burnout.
A cognitive behavioral therapist discusses difficult situations with the patient frequently and how the patient behaves then. The therapist also wants to know how the patient thinks about such difficult situations. It’s an active way of treating; an active contribution is expected from the patient. Questionnaires and exercises are used in the therapy sessions. In addition, the therapist arranges homework assignments with the patient in order to work on the problems outside the sessions. About five to twenty-five sessions are often required.
This form of therapy has often proved more effective than medication, especially in the longer term. However, this doesn’t mean that all patients benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. The effects differ per person. Other psychological treatments may also work for certain problems in patients.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is currently probably the most commonly used form of psychotherapy.