Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: What Is It and How Does It Function?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapies

You can identify harmful or inefficient thinking and behavior patterns using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapeutic strategy.

CBT seeks to assist you in recognizing and exploring how your feelings and ideas might influence your behavior. As soon as you become aware of these patterns, you may learn how to alter your behavior and create fresh coping mechanisms.

CBT focuses less on the past and more on the present. Other types of psychotherapy may be equally or even more successful in treating specific old age problems and common diseases. The fact that there is no one size fits is crucial.

Continue reading to learn more about what cognitive behavioral therapy could help our older adults.    

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be useful for various issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, difficulties with alcohol and other drugs, marital issues, eating disorders, and serious mental diseases, which is part of our aging body.

Numerous studies have found that CBT significantly enhances functioning and quality of life. CBT has been shown in several trials to be equally successful as, or even more effective than, other types of psychological treatment or psychiatric drugs.

Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to alter habitual negative beliefs that might exacerbate our emotional problems, such as melancholy and anxiety, and contribute to them. These uncontrollable, unpleasant thoughts negatively impact our mood.

Through CBT, false beliefs are exposed, refuted, and replaced with more accurate, realistic beliefs.

Introduction to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be a useful treatment option for various psychological problems. 

Take the following actions if you think you or someone you care about could benefit from this type of therapy:

  • To find a certified therapist in your region, speak with your doctor or look in the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists‘ registry of registered therapists. You may search for local therapists trained in cognitive behavioral therapy by entering “cognitive behavioral therapy near me.”
  • Consider your specific preferences, such as whether you would benefit more from in-person or online counseling.
  • See if cognitive behavioral treatment is covered by your health insurance and, if so, how many sessions are covered annually.
  • Please set up a consultation with the therapist of your choice, and mark the time on your calendar to ensure that you don’t forget about it or unintentionally book anything else during that period.
  • Bring a good attitude and an open mind to your first session. Be prepared to start recognizing the ideas and actions that could be preventing you from moving forward and resolve to master the techniques that will.

Core principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is founded on many fundamental ideas, such as:

  • Psychological issues are based in part on flawed or unhelpful thought processes. 
  • They are also based in part on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior. 
  • People with psychological issues can learn more effective coping mechanisms to help them manage their symptoms and become more effective in their daily lives.

Core Concepts of CBT

The foundation of CBT is that your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are intertwined. In other words, your actions might be influenced by your feelings and thoughts.

For instance, you can view things differently and make decisions you would only sometimes make if you’re stressed at work. However, the ability to alter these thinking and behavior patterns is still another crucial CBT idea.

The American Psychological Association lists the following as the central ideas of CBT:

  • Unhelpful habits of thinking are partially to blame for psychological problems.
  • Behavioral patterns that have been taught have a role in some psychiatric problems.
  • Well-coping strategies and symptom management can assist persons who live with these problems to get better and reduce their symptoms.

Conventional CBT Approaches

What is the best way to modify these patterns? CBT employs a wide range of approaches. Your therapist will consult with you to determine which ones are most effective for you.

Common treatments frequently include the following:

  • realizing how erroneous thinking may make issues worse
  • learning fresh approaches to tackling issues
  • increasing self-assurance and deeper comprehension and respect of your value
  • learning how to handle obstacles and concerns

In CBT therapy, efforts are often made to alter thought processes. 

These tactics might consist of the following:

  • Gaining a better understanding of the behavior and motivation of others. 
  • Using problem-solving techniques to deal with challenging circumstances. 
  • Learning to develop a greater sense of confidence in one’s abilities.
  • Learning to identify one’s thinking distortions causing problems and then reevaluate them in light of reality.
  • The CBT treatment often entails attempts to alter behavioral patterns. 

Most Popular Techniques

Inquiring and guided exploration: Your therapist can teach you to question your presumptions about who you are or how things are now by asking you to examine other points of view. 

Here’s how you can help someone with cognitive impairment through the aid of CBT.

  • Journaling: You can be requested to list the unfavorable thoughts that cross your mind each week and the constructive ideas you might use in their stead.
  • Self-talk: Your therapist may inquire about what you tell yourself about a certain circumstance or event and urge you to switch out critical or unkind self-talk for kind and helpful self-talk.
  • Recording of thoughts: Using this method, you’ll write down your thoughts and feelings as they relate to a certain circumstance, then you’ll come up with factual proof both in favor of and against your negative view. This evidence will help you form a better-grounded opinion.
  • Constructive actions: Scheduling a satisfying activity each day might help you feel happier and more positive overall. Treat yourself to fresh flowers or fruit, watch your preferred film, or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy suggestions in the park.
  • Exposure to the situation: This entails listing stressful events or items, ranking them according to how much misery they produce, and gradually exposing oneself to these things until they trigger less uncomfortable emotions. 

Similar methods include systematic desensitization, where you’ll learn relaxation strategies to assist you in dealing with your emotions in a trying circumstance.

Cognitive behavioral therapy types

CBT includes a variety of methods and strategies that target our attitudes, feelings, and actions. These can include self-help techniques as well as organized psychotherapies. Several particular treatment modalities that use cognitive behavioral therapy include:

Cognitive Therapy

The main goals of cognitive therapy are to recognize and alter faulty thought processes, emotional changes, and behaviors. Numerous conditions are treated using cognitive behavioral therapy. 

It’s frequently the favored kind of psychotherapy since it may swiftly assist you in recognizing and resolving particular difficulties. It is often more regimented and takes fewer sessions than other forms of treatment.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

A form of talking therapy is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Although it is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), it has been modified especially for those who strongly experience emotions. DBT seeks to assist you in: Acknowledging and accepting your challenging emotions. Learn how to control them.

Incorporating therapeutic techniques like emotional control and mindfulness, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) targets negative or distressing ideas and actions.

Multimodal treatment 

Multimodal treatment contends that seven distinct but related modalities—behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal variables, and drug/biological considerations—must be addressed to effectively treat psychological problems.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Identifying illogical ideas, aggressively questioning these beliefs, and eventually learning to recognize and alter these thinking patterns are all part of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

ACT is a form of therapy that teaches patients to tolerate unfavorable or undesirable ideas. This subtype may be especially helpful for those who struggle with intrusive thinking or catastrophic thoughts.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

Along with cognitive treatment, MBCT incorporates meditation and mindfulness practices. People with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may find this subtype to be especially helpful (GAD).

What conditions may cognitive behavioral therapy treat?

CBT is effective for a variety of issues that may be included to fears of the older adults, including the following mental health issues:

But for CBT to be effective, you don’t need to have a particular mental health issue. It may also be useful for:

  • relationship problems
  • separation or divorce
  • a serious health diagnosis, such as cancer
  • grief or loss
  • chronic pain
  • low self-esteem
  • insomnia
  • general life stress

Cognitive behavioral therapy’s advantages

Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches patients that while they cannot control every part of their environment, they are still in charge of how they perceive and respond to it.

The following are some of the most well-known advantages of CBT:

  • It works for many different types of maladaptive habits.
  • It is frequently less expensive than certain other forms of therapy.
  • Online or in-person treatment is equally as beneficial.
  • People who don’t need psychotropic medication can utilize it.
  • The essential tenet of CBT is that thoughts and feelings significantly impact behavior.
  • It aids in the development of better mental processes by making you aware of the unfavorable and frequently irrational ideas that negatively affect your feelings and mood.
  • Improvements may frequently be noticed in five to 20 sessions, making it a successful short-term therapy choice.

What can I anticipate from CBT?

CBT focuses on figuring out how to alter thinking and behavior patterns that are now negatively affecting your life.

CBT often lasts for a short while and gives you the tools you need to deal with the issues you are presently facing. The overall objective of CBT is to transform your negative ideas into constructive feelings and behaviors, while you and your therapist should establish particular goals.

What aims does CBT pursue?

The specific aim will differ from person to person since people seek treatment for several reasons. The main objective of CBT is to concentrate on the connection between ideas, emotions, and behaviors.

A therapist assists clients in identifying and acquiring control over their habitual thinking and learning how to modify their habits through therapy, exercises, and homework. A person could feel better, creating a more beneficial loop between these three things.


The goal of CBT is to assist people in becoming their therapists. Patients and clients are assisted in developing coping skills so they may learn to alter their thinking, troublesome emotions, and behavior through activities done both during and outside of sessions.

Instead of focusing on the circumstances that lead to the problems, CBT therapists highlight what is happening in the client’s current life. Although some knowledge of one’s past is necessary, the main goal is to move forward in time and create more useful coping mechanisms.