CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Perhaps you have heard the term “CBT” in the context of psychology. Maybe the concept is already well known to you, or maybe you have no idea. CBT is today one of the most popular forms of therapy and is aimed at people who suffer from, for example, depression, anxiety or social phobia. In this text, you will get more clarity about what CBT actually is, how a CBT treatment can be done and various pros of the treatment method.
In recent years, new theories have been added and expanded CBT into an umbrella concept over a range of different forms of therapy. Depending on the orientation within CBT, the therapist chooses to focus on one of the above-mentioned perspectives to varying extents. However, it is not uncommon for these to occur together.
Common to all forms of CBT is that you practice using new behaviors and thought patterns to reduce psychological problems. The treatment focuses on the factors that currently influence the continuation of the problems the client is seeking help for. In other words, the emphasis is on the interaction between the individual and the environment here and now; on what can actually change.
An important goal in CBT is to give the client tools to deal with their problems in everyday life, outside the therapy room. In order for this to be effective, so-called homework assignments are a common feature of CBT treatment. CBT is based on well-founded research and is well supported to be effective for a variety of psychological problems.
Behavioral therapy is developed from a psychological approach called Behaviorism that was developed in the early 20th century. Seen from a behavioral therapy perspective, it is the external, observable consequences of various behaviors that are important to why we act the way we do. Such a consequence, which maintains a behavior, can be that one receives praise or that an unpleasant feeling disappears. If this happens, there is a greater probability that people will continue to behave in the same way in the future – even if it is actually a behavior that will become problematic in the long run. Problems are largely considered to be a consequence of the client’s experiences in the form of learning, but mapping the client’s current problems is considered a necessary condition for successful treatment.

A change, seen from a behavioral therapeutic perspective, starts with a systematic extinction of problematic behaviors. Extinction, in this context, means removing or reducing the consequences that cause the person in question to behave in a certain way – for example, if the person no longer receives praise for their problematic behavior, this will decrease. At the same time, a goal is to replace the problematic behavior with a behavior that is in line with the client’s goals. The probability of this increases if the consequences of the goal-promoting behavior are favorable.
Examples of behavioral therapeutic treatment methods include various types of relaxation, exposure, social skills training, and aversion therapy.
The basic view in cognitive psychotherapy is based on the assumption that people’s thoughts, mainly in the form of thoughts that are automatically activated, control people’s behavior and emotional reactions. For example, if a person has very negative thoughts about themselves and their surroundings, this may be part of the reason why the person is in a depressive state. These thoughts are also often automatic, which means that you think in negative ways without being aware of it.
A clear goal in cognitive psychotherapy is to help the person break harmful, negative thought patterns in various ways. Usually, the client and the therapist jointly map the client’s thoughts and interpretations and then test the accuracy of these through conversations or so-called behavioral experiments.
In recent years, there has been a further development of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on the concepts of acceptance and mindfulness. Instead of systematically changing behaviors or mindsets, people should work on accepting themselves; their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. The concept of mindfulness means an ability to observe yourself and the world around you as they are in the moment – intentionally, attentively and free of values. Acceptance and mindfulness create a prerequisite for creating distance to oneself and thereby increasing control and freedom. The most talked about forms of mindfulness-based therapies are ACT, DBT, mindfulness-based stress management (MBSR), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBKT).
MBSR is a group treatment that focuses on training different meditation techniques; mindfulness meditation, body scanning and movement meditation in the form of simple yoga movements. MBKT also includes parts of CBT with the aim of strengthening the individual’s ability to relate to their thoughts in a conscious way.
Motivational interviewing (MI) is a conversational method where the therapist’s role is to help the client formulate their own understanding of their problems and their own arguments for change. It is also about strengthening the client in implementing the change. Today, the method is mainly used for lifestyle-related problems, such as abuse of alcohol, drugs, food and gambling. Motivational speaking can be used in short counseling and as a longer treatment method – both to promote motivation and behavior change.
In recent decades, cognitive behavioral therapy has grown into one of the most commonly used therapy methods. As with all treatment methods, CBT can help those suffering from any form of mental illness. But the form of treatment is also aimed at those who are generally interested in gaining better self-knowledge and self-insight.

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