What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

*1. A fundamental principle of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in San Jose is that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things like people, situations, or events.

As you learn how thoughts and behavior cause much of your unhappiness, you learn to identify and practice alternatives to have better and have better relationships. Good therapists like John R. Fishbein Ph.D. make this possible.

2. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is briefer and time-limited.

CBT is considered among the most rapid regarding results. The average number of sessions across all types of problems and approaches is only 16. Other forms of therapy can take years. What allows CBT to be briefer are the highly instructive nature of it and the use of homework assignments. CBT is time-limited in that clients understand from the start that there is a point when therapy ends. The ending is a decision made by the therapist and client.

3. A healthy therapeutic relationship is necessary but is not the focus.

Some forms of therapy assume the reason people get better is because of the positive relationship with the therapist. A good, trusting relationship is important, but not enough. The clients change because they learn how to think and act differently as a reaction to learning. Ergo, CBT therapists teach rational self-counseling skills.

4. CBT is a collaborative effort between the therapist and the client.

Therapists learn their clients’ goals and help to achieve them. The therapist’s role is to listen, teach, and encourage, while the client's is to express concerns, learn, and implement that learning.

5. CBT and Emotion

Cognitive behavioral therapy does not tell people how they should feel.
However, most people seeking it do not want to feel the way they have been. This emphasizes the fact that we have undesirable situations regardless of whether we are upset about them. As such, we end up with 2 problems – the issue itself and our own emotions towards that issue. Most people want to have as few problems as possible. When we learn how to accept a personal one more calmly, we feel better and usually put ourselves in a better position to solve it.

6. CBT uses the Socratic Method.

Therapists want to understand their clients' concerns. That's why they often ask questions and encourage their clients to question themselves. “How do I really know if people are laughing at me? Could they be laughing about something else?”

7. CBT is structured and directive.

Therapists do not just listen during sessions; they use specific techniques and concepts to teach clients how to achieve their goals. No one is told what their goals should be. Instead, therapists show clients how to think and behave to obtain what they want. Rather than tell patients what to do, they teach patients how to do.

8. CBT is based on an educational model.

CBT is based on the scientifically supported assumption that most emotional and behavioral reactions are learned. So the goal of therapy is to help individuals unlearn their undesirable reactions and learn a new way of reacting instead. The educational emphasis leads to long-term results. When people understand how and why they are doing well, they know how to continue doing well.

9. CBT theory and techniques rely on the inductive method.

A key aspect of rational thinking is that it is based on fact. Often, we upset ourselves about things when, in fact, the situation isn’t how we make it out to be. If we knew that, we wouldn’t waste time being upset over trivial matters. The inductive method encourages us to view our thoughts as hypotheses or guesses that can be questioned and tested. If we find that our hypotheses are incorrect due to new information, we can change our thinking to be in line with reality.

10. Homework is a central feature of CBT.

If, when you attempted to learn your multiplication tables, you studied one hour a week, you might still be wondering what 5 x 5 equals. You likely spent a lot of time studying your multiplication tables. The same is the case with psychotherapy. Goal achievement could take a long time if a person only had to think about techniques and topics for one hour a week. That's why therapists give reading assignments and encourage their clients to practice the techniques.

*From the National Association of Cognitive Behavior Therapists