The Development of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Posted in: Treatment

July 23, 2014

A patient sitting in front of their counselor

Over the last few decades, several psychological therapies have formed. Perhaps the most well-known of these therapy types is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is used in a variety of settings to help people understand themselves better. Many psychologists use CBT to help their patients deal with mental health conditions, and thousands of people have benefited from its use over the years. In other words, you can recover from a mental health problem if you seek professional help.

History of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

As Ben Martin explains, CBT was first developed in the 1960s by a psychiatrist named Aaron T. Beck, who formulated the idea for the therapy after noticing that many of his patients had internal dialogues that were almost a form of them talking to themselves. He also observed that his patients’ thoughts often impacted their feelings, and he called these emotionally-loaded thoughts “automatic thoughts.” Martin also explains that Beck originally named CBT “cognitive therapy,” because it focuses on each patient’s thought process.

Structure and Uses of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A person that engages in CBT will follow a specific and fairly rigid treatment plan. He will begin each CBT session by briefly discussing problems with his therapist, who will then work with the patient to figure out specific goals to work toward in the session. Throughout the session, the pair will talk about the aforementioned problems and consider different options for handling them.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) describes CBT as a therapy that looks at thought patterns and beliefs that can contribute to self-destructive behaviors. Essentially, it teaches people to modify the way they think to improve their coping skills. NAMI also explains that this type of therapy actually alters brain activity, even as it lists the following types of mental health conditions commonly treated with CBT:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders

CBT benefits people with these conditions in multiple ways. The Mayo Clinic lists the following benefits of this treatment type:

  • Controlling emotions: Many mental health conditions involve intense, sometimes overwhelming emotions, but this therapy helps people understand and manage these strong feelings
  • Coping with grief: Some mental health conditions, such as depression, occur after a tragedy or the loss of a loved one, and CBT is useful in working through the grieving process
  • Dealing with physical illness: CBT can often enable people to handle pain and related physical health problems better
  • Managing mental health condition’s symptoms: This is often the primary purpose of CBT, as many healthcare professionals consider a person’s thoughts to sometimes influence his mental health
  • Overcoming emotional trauma: When people suffer from the effects of abuse or similar violence, they might benefit from CBT
  • Preventing relapse: With proper use, the skills learned in this therapy can help patients minimize the symptoms of their conditions
  • Resolving conflicts: One major component of CBT is effective communication, and improved communication skills can help people solve problems in their relationships
  • Teaching coping techniques to deal with stress: Another way mental health conditions can form or worsen is when people are in high-stress environments. CBT can identify causes of stress and teach patients to manage those problems in healthy ways.
  • Treatment for people who can’t use medications: People that cannot take medications can benefit from CBT

In other words, seek help as soon as possible to recover from a mental health problem.

Learn About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy has only been around for a few decades, but since its development it has become a popular and effective form of treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about CBT, give us a call at 615-490-9376. Our admissions coordinators are available to talk to you about CBT and other therapy options, and they can also answer questions you have about mental health treatment.

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