Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT is an effective method to treat mood or behavioral disorders. CBT helps alter thinking patterns to create positive behaviors. 

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

For people looking for counseling or therapy to treat different disorders, many may ask themselves “what is cognitive-behavioral therapy?” Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy used to alter negative thinking patterns to treat unwanted behavior or mood disorders. The CBT meaning in therapy is used to describe a treatment process where a therapist works with a patient to analyze their thinking patterns, often through talk therapy, and recognize how the patient’s thinking is affecting their mood or behaviors.

The therapist then works with the patient to develop coping mechanisms and create more positive behavior and moods.  

The History of CBT

In the 1960s, a psychologist, Aaron T. Beck, created the idea for CBT therapy after noticing that most of his patients had internal dialogues where they would essentially talk to themselves. He found that these internal thoughts often affected a person’s emotions and behaviors in many ways.

Beck named the first integration of this therapy “cognitive therapy,” because it focused on the patient’s thought process. Later, the name was changed to “cognitive-behavioral therapy,” since it was found that the thoughts and behaviors often impact one another.1

Today, CBT therapy is one of the most used and effective therapeutic techniques for treating both behavioral and mood disorders. Studies have shown that CBT on its own can effectively treat mood disorders like depression and anxiety 50-75% of the time. When CBT techniques are combined with medication the success rate jumps up to 75-90% effectiveness.2 This fact shows that CBT therapy may be a good option for many who are struggling with mental health or other issues in their life. 


The meaning of DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) is similar to the CBT meaning. DBT is a cognitive therapy used to help people process their thoughts and emotions to improve behaviors and moods. The main difference in DBT vs. CBT is that DBT techniques are more focused on mindfulness practices to treat thoughts and behaviors, whereas CBT therapy is more focused on talk therapy to work through these same issues.

DBT techniques utilize mindfulness, meditation, and emotional regulation to help patients work through cognitive issues being experienced. It helps improve thought patterns and create more positive behaviors. Both CBT and DBT can be effective for treating behavioral and mood disorders.

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Used to Treat?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has shown to be effective in treating a variety of different mood and behavioral disorders. 


When someone experiences depression, they will often have negative thought patterns that contribute to their depressed mood. CBT therapy can help those who struggle with depression reroute negative thought patterns into more positive ones.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are often associated with distortions in someone’s thoughts. These distortions or negative thoughts can lead to anxiety occurring in many everyday situations in someone’s life.

Cognitive therapy can help someone determine what thoughts and situations trigger anxiety and work on developing more positive thoughts and coping mechanisms to properly manage these situations.


Hyperactive behaviors associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can also be treated through CBT therapy. CBT interventions and therapy can help those who struggle with ADHD recognize how their thoughts are influencing their behavior.

Over time, coping mechanisms can be developed to help treat negative thinking patterns and create more positive behaviors. 


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by compulsive behaviors that often stem from anxiety and distorted thinking patterns. Behavioral therapy can be useful for those who struggle with OCD to recognize negative thinking patterns and how they are influencing compulsive behaviors.

With time, recognizing these thought patterns will help those with OCD learn to better manage their symptoms and create more positive behaviors.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stems from traumatic experiences that someone has had. Trauma-focused CBT can help to effectively treat symptoms of PTSD. Trauma-focused CBT works to help those with PTSD recognize how their past experiences have affected their thinking patterns. It can effectively treat PTSD symptoms and create positive coping mechanisms.

Eating Disorders

Behavioral therapy can be effective for treating negative behaviors associated with eating disorders. Eating disorders often stem from negative thoughts that affect someone’s eating habits.

CBT interventions and techniques can help someone effectively work through these negative thoughts to create more positive eating habits.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders often stem from mental health issues or negative thought patterns that affect someone’s ability to sleep. Through CBT therapy, patients can begin to recognize negative thinking patterns and work on coping mechanisms that will help create healthier sleeping habits over time.


Phobias often stem from negative thoughts or experiences. CBT can help those who struggle with phobias learn how their thoughts influence their fears. It can help someone with phobias effectively work on their thoughts and learn how to cope with their fears.

Bipolar Disorder

Those who struggle with bipolar disorder can greatly benefit from CBT therapy. CBT helps those with bipolar disorder learn how their thoughts affect their actions. Learning to manage negative thought patterns will help treat symptoms of bipolar disorder and create more positive behaviors that lead to success.


CBT can help those with schizophrenia work on social and problem-solving skills that will help manage schizophrenia symptoms. By working on these skills, those with schizophrenia can learn to effectively manage their symptoms and be successful in other areas of life.

Sexual Disorders

Behaviors associated with sexual disorders often stem from negative thoughts or experiences in someone’s life. By working with a cognitive therapist, patients can begin to deal with these negative thoughts or experiences to create better behavioral patterns.


Behavioral therapy is often necessary for those who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. CBT for addiction can be effective in treating the thoughts and behaviors associated with drug abuse. Addiction therapy helps those who are struggling to effectively work through underlying conditions or areas of their life that are causing addiction to occur. 

Steps in CBT

CBT follows a few main steps that make this form of therapy highly effective for the treatment of many different mood or behavioral disorders.

Identify Situations

One of the main steps in CBT is identifying situations that cause negative thoughts or behaviors to occur. By accurately identifying these situations, patients can get a better understanding of how they can manage their symptoms. 

Aware of Problems

In CBT, patients must develop an awareness of the problems they are experiencing and learn how those problems are impacting different areas of their life. By developing awareness of these problems, the patient and therapist can begin to work together to develop coping mechanisms that will help manage symptoms. 

Change Negative Emotions

Many negative moods or behaviors are associated with negative emotions. To change negative emotions, CBT works on creating awareness of thought patterns that create these feelings, which helps patients learn how to manage their symptoms and begin to develop more positive emotional well-being. 

Length of Therapy

The length of therapy will depend on the individual and their needs. Generally, this will range from five to twenty sessions. The goal of CBT is to help patients learn how to manage symptoms on their own. This aspect means each session will be highly focused on creating positive outcomes and progress along the way. 

Factors That Determine the Number of Sessions

Some factors can help determine how many sessions are needed based on individual needs. 

Type of Disorder

Different disorders will require different levels of treatment. Some disorders can tend to be more severe which will require more therapy sessions. Other disorders that are less severe may only require a handful of sessions before a patient is ready to manage symptoms on their own. 


The severity of the individual’s symptoms will also determine how many sessions are needed. The more severe the symptoms are, the more therapy sessions will likely be needed. 


Individual progress will also help determine the number of sessions required. Some patients might make quick progress and recovery, therefore needing fewer sessions. Therapists will keep track of progress and help determine the proper number of sessions for someone’s needs. 

Environmental Factors

Someone’s environment can have a significant impact on their speed of treatment. If you spend a lot of time in an environment that often triggers symptoms, it can slow down the recovery process. Therapists can help you learn to manage your environment to help make CBT more effective. 

How to Choose the Right CBT?

When you are thinking about starting CBT, it is essential to know what factors to consider for your needs. 

Review Concerns

When choosing a therapist to work with, you should review your concerns and get information about how the process will go. You can contact different organizations or therapists and ask any questions you may have to alleviate any concerns about beginning this process. 

Understand Costs

When choosing an organization or therapist to work with, you should also understand how much these services will cost. It is critical to have a budget in mind and work with someone who will stay within a price range that works for you. 

Find the Right Therapist

When starting therapy, find a therapist that you feel comfortable working with. You can reach out to therapists before beginning sessions to ask any questions or express any concerns you may have.

If you start working with someone and it does not feel like a good fit, you can always try switching to a different therapist that may better fit your needs. 

CBT at The PAC Program

The PAC Program takes the right approach to effectively treating addiction and other mood or behavioral disorders through CBT. All psychotherapists are highly trained and know how to create a positive environment that leads to success. All therapists have expertise in their field with proper certifications and licenses to treat patients.

If you are struggling, you don’t have to go through it alone. The PAC Program has a caring staff that can help you through each step of the recovery process. 


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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