Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What is it and how can it work for you?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most commonly used counseling theories. Cognitive-behavioral therapies combine both cognitive and behavioral strategies to support a short-term therapeutic approach to change. Whether your counselor utilizes REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy), CT (Cognitive Therapy) or CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), they all fall under the umbrella of cognitive-behavioral approaches.

All of these approaches share similarities in the counseling session. One similarity is that these strategies for counseling support a collaborative relationship between the counselor and the client. A second foundational premise is that your counselor views your psychological distress as a factor created by disturbances in your thoughts and cognitive processing. During your counseling sessions with a CBT counselor, you will learn new strategies and techniques to “change the way you think”. Change the way you think and you will change the way you feel.

Another attribute of CBT is that your counselor will take a more active and directive role in the counseling session. A CBT counselor will support her client with education and strategies that address specific target behaviors.

The key to CBT is this: if we can teach a client to reorganize his self-statements, this will lead to a change in behavior. A change in behavior leads to a change in how we feel. A CBT counselor may include behavioral techniques such as operant conditioning, behavioral rehearsal, role-playing, and modeling.

One of the most powerful tools used by a CBT counselor is from Albert Ellis. Dr. Ellis created the A-B-C framework as a central component to REBT. Simply stated, A-B-C is the equation that empowers a client to accept responsibility for controlling what is in their control. In this example, A = an activating event, B = belief, and C = consequence. What Dr. Ellis teaches us is that we do not have an emotional response to any specific event, instead, we have an emotional response to our belief about that event. This emotional response is the consequence of our belief about any life event that occurs. In counseling, we learn to accept responsibility for controlling what we can. We certainly can’t control everything that happens to us but we can control how we respond to it.

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