Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is arguably one of the most well-known and most utilized forms of therapy practiced. For most individuals suffering from mood disorders (such as generalized anxiety disorder) or for people who are currently struggling with stressful life situations, enlisting the help of a therapist to alleviate distress and better cope with current difficulties will likely lead you to encounter this approach to mental health treatment.

But just because cognitive behavior therapy is a popular and helpful form of treatment doesn’t mean that it is for everyone. If you are currently in therapy and are being treated using CBT or if you anticipate that you will be, here is a brief overview of CBT and a glimpse into whether or not it will be right for you.

What is CBT and what is it designed to treat?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of talk therapy that is used to help individuals cultivate awareness and change their thoughts and therefore, their behavior. This type of therapy is based on the belief that your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are directly connected to your perception of yourself and of the world around you. When you are stuck in a negative loop of feelings, beliefs, and thoughts, you begin to perceive yourself and your current situation in life in a negative way. This cycle continues over and over, feeding into distress and contributing to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. From the perspective of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the only way to change these thoughts is to interrupt the cycle.

There are quite a few issues that CBT is designed to treat, with the most common being generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, depression, substance abuse or addiction, eating disorders, and phobias.

How does CBT work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is typically conducted between a patient and a single therapist. During therapy sessions, therapists will help the patient identify problematic, negative thought processes that contribute to the individual’s mental health issues in a system known as functional analysis. Once the patient has identified and come to terms with the fact that these negative cycles are taking place, the therapist will then help the patient challenge these thought processes. They will provide them with valuable coping mechanisms that will help them work towards freeing themselves from their own counterproductive, limiting thoughts. The CBT process is very hands-on and goal-oriented.

Is CBT right for me?

CBT is right for many and is an extremely effective form of therapy. That being said, CBT is designed to be a focused form of treatment.. Many people are comforted by its laser-like focus on their current struggles.. However, some may find that it is too restrictive and narrow in focus, and prefer a therapy process that is more exploratory and open-ended. Additionally, other treatment options, such as medication might be warranted. Talk to your therapist about any concerns you have about CBT treatment and its fit for you. Do this so that you and your therapist can address your concerns and talk further about your treatment options while in session to make sure that you get the treatment that you need to help you cope with your mental health issues.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a great way to help you overcome negative thoughts that feed into your mental health issues and prevent you from leading the happy life that you would like to live. If you think CBT is something you can benefit from but are unsure, use this guide to better understand the treatment as well as any issues that may come up along the way.