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How can cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help mental health?

Judith Beck, PhD
Psychiatry
At each therapy session, cognitive behavior therapists help patients specify the problems they have encountered during the week or that they expect to encounter in the current week. They then collect data to identify the ideas and behaviors that have interfered with patients' ability to solve problems themselves. Cognitive behavior therapists get patients actively engaged in deciding where to start working. Together, they develop an “action  plan” or homework for patients (to do during the week) to implement solutions to problems or to make changes in their thinking and actions. This process gets patients actively involved in their own treatment; they begin to recognize that the way to get better is to make small changes in how they think and what they do every day. When treatment ends, patients are able to use the skills and tools they have learned in therapy in their day-to-day lives.  

The idea behind cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is that your own distorted thinking is the cause of your mental health problems. CBT helps you understand how your thinking affects your mood and behavior. By changing your thinking, you can see your mental health problems more clearly and take steps to reduce the symptoms. CBT is often helpful for people with self-destructive behavior such as overeating. It also often helpful for people who are depressed or have negative moods.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.