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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Definition

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of talk therapy that is brief, present focused, and goal-oriented. The cognitive behavioral therapy approach is to identify and change ineffective thought and behavior patterns in order to positively impact mood and to achieve life goals. Cognitive behavioral therapy has more research support than any other form of psychotherapy, clinically proven in hundreds of scientific studies. 

There are numerous cognitive behavioral therapy treatments for all kinds of problems and disorders. Generally they involve some combination of the following components:

Cognitive Restructuring: Cognitive restructuring involves identifying ineffective thinking patterns that lead to negative moods and poor decision making, and learning new ways of thinking that improve mood and responses to difficult situations. 

Exposure Therapy: Fear and anxiety are maintained by avoidance of the feared stimuli. Exposure therapy helps people approach what they fear in a graded, systematic way, starting with the least anxiety provoking triggers until they no longer trigger fear. Once that fear is conquered, the client moves onto the next triggering thing. 

Behavioral Activation: People who are depressed tend to withdraw from rewarding activities, making them even more depressed. Behavioral Activation helps people identify missing experiences of pleasure and mastery, and teaches people skills to re-engage in life, thus eliminating depressive symptoms. 

Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a skill drawn from Buddhist meditation that has been the subject of much research recently. Mindfulness helps people regulate distressing emotions and lead vital lives by helping people connect to the present moment, and do what works rather than ruminate about what is not working. 
Relaxation Training: Relaxation training helps people reduce physical anxiety to better cope with stressful situations. 

Skills Training: Oftentimes people have skills deficits that cause psychological problems. Skills training can help people remedy these areas. Assertiveness training, social skills training, and problem solving are among the more common treatment targets.

Click for more information about  What CBT is and How it Works