What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

“We are not disturbed by events themselves, but by our perception of those events.”- Epictetus

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, emphasizes skill-building. The three basic principles of CBT are:

  • Cognitions (thoughts) influence mood and behavior
  • Cognitions can be monitored and changed
  • Desired behaviors can be influenced by cognitive changes

CBT is about learning to think about how we think. The model above describes how each of these areas of functioning influence one another. If we learn to monitor our distorted thoughts and challenge them – see them in a realistic way – we can alter our mood. Similarly, our behavior affects our mood.

CBT is a psychotherapy that is based on the cognitive model: the way that individuals perceive a situation is more closely connected to their reaction than the situation itself.

One important part of CBT is helping clients change their unhelpful thinking and behavior that lead to enduring improvement in their mood and functioning.

CBT uses a variety of cognitive and behavioral techniques, but it isn’t defined by its use of these strategies. We do lots of problem solving and we borrow from many psychotherapeutic modalities, including dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, Gestalt therapy, compassion focused therapy, mindfulness, solution focused therapy, motivational interviewing, positive psychology, interpersonal psychotherapy, and when it comes to personality disorders, psychodynamic psychotherapy.