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What in the World Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Guest posts

Today’s guest post is from Kari Wolfe, whose blog Imperfect Clarity passes on everything she’s learning as she works toward building a writing career, interviews fascinating people, parents her daughter in ways she never expected, and forges her own habits of success.

Recently, Luc has been talking about broken ideas, his term for cognitive distortions. This topic falls under the general category of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) which is based on the idea that if you change the way you think, you can change the way you feel.

psychiatrist Dr. Aaron T. Beck, who pioneered cognitive therapy

CBT began in the 1960s and is one alternative to your standard lay-on-the-couch-and-spill-your-thoughts psychoanalysis. For many specific problems, CBT can help you solve those problems in about four to six months of therapy while standard psychoanalysis can take years to reveal roots of problems.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages and, for some situations (and some patients), one can be better than the other. As always, it is up to YOU to decide what method works for you.


What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

The main idea behind CBT is your feelings and thoughts need to be in accord with the events as they take place.

As PsychCentral’s introduction to CBT states, “it’s not events themselves that upset us, but the meanings we give them.”

If these meanings do not line up with what really happened, it can cause a cognitive distortion, i.e. Luc’s broken ideas. Cleaning up these broken ideas is one form of CBT.


What is professional treatment like?

Professional treatment usually consists of three main areas:

Structure. CBT sessions are highly structured, focusing on the best use of the time. Since the goal is for the process to eventually become second-nature to the patient, the therapist acts as a guide, helping direct the patient toward his/her goal in the beginning, giving up that role later as the patient learns to guide themselves.

Homework or exercises. As with most therapies, this is an important aspect of CBT. As the therapist and the patient discuss the problem, they talk about what’s going on and the patient receives exercises to do at home. This is where the patient begins to put what he/she is learning into action in his/her own life.

Therapists and patients are on equal levels. The therapist acts like more of a guide than an all-powerful solution-holder.


What kinds of problems can benefit?

According to PsychCentral, CBT can be an effective therapy for the following problems:

anger management
anxiety and panic attacks
child and adolescent problems
chronic fatigue syndrome
chronic pain
drug or alcohol problems
eating problems
general health problems
habits, such as facial tics
mood swings
obsessive-compulsive disorder
post-traumatic stress disorder
sexual and relationship problems
sleep problems

Can it replace medications for these problems? Well, maybe. But that’s between you and your doctor.


Do I have to see a therapist to learn about CBT?

Well, no. Not necessarily. There are a lot of online resources that can help you get started in learning what CBT is.

Wikipedia: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

While you don’t want to necessarily take Wikipedia at its every word, it can be one of the best jumping off points to begin your research. But, take everything with a grain of salt and if you’re just not sure, check the page’s references.

Cognitive Behavioural Self-Help Resources

Lots of information from a UK cognitive therapist, Carol Vivyan.

Luc’s tag on broken ideas (AKA cognitive distortions)

Not to continuously repeat myself, but I have found that Luc’s articles on broken ideas, idea repair, and schema therapy (another alternative therapy that incorporate some CBT ideas) are FANTASTIC places to start. Not only has he explained these topics extremely well, Luc has used a great number of sources on each article as well–dig in however far you want.

CBT has also been adapted for numerous books in the self-help section of the bookstore.

Kari Wolfe is a stay-at-home mother of a very curious three-year-old daughter who happens to be autistic. She is a writer and maintains her own blog, Imperfect Clarity where her focus is becoming the best writer (and person) she can be by living her life to the fullest 🙂



  1. cbt therapy  •  Mar 14, 2014 @8:06 am

    I really like it when people come together and share ideas.
    Great site, keep it up!

  2. Sylvia Buet  •  Nov 3, 2016 @8:35 am

    Recently, cognitive behavioural therapy has also been delivered via Skype. CBT online therapy has similar effectiveness than in-person CBT therapy.

    You can read a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of online CBT therapy

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