Behavioral Cognitive Therapy to Improve Human Behavior and Quality of Life

Treat anxiety, addictions, depression and other behaviors by altering behavior

Psychotherapy is used to improve dysfunctional thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It aims to impart self-help strategies that can improve the patient’s quality of life.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be used to alter the tendencies of beliefs or thoughts, such as those that trigger anxiety. Some people have automatic negative thoughts, and this therapy can help the client to challenge and overcome them.

Cognitive restructuring can make the person rethink their negative thoughts in a more positive perspective.

Cognitive behavioral therapy involves:

  • Evaluation (for example, surveys)
  • Education (for example, greater knowledge about the patient’s specific problems to help them challenge and overcome irrational or “unfounded” feelings and thoughts)
  • Setting objectives (for example, the client chooses a goal in which he wants to focus between sessions and creates a plan with the therapist to move towards the goal)
  • Role playing and skills practice
  • Task or action plans
  • In general, the number of sessions can vary between six and ten
  • Sessions can be face-to-face or online programs

Another example of a cognitive behavioral therapy strategy may include asking a person to offer evidence to support their thoughts, in order to help the patient understand when they have a false or irrational belief.

Obviously, the person may have the opportunity to challenge or rethink this perception.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a great tool for the treatment of the following psychological conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Social phobia
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger problems
  • Hypochondria
  • Misuse of substances such as alcohol
  • Game problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Marital and relationship problems

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, but there is not enough evidence to conclude whether CBT is more successful than active controls, usual treatment or medications during follow-up.

Interestingly, one study found that cognitive behavioral therapy can improve quality of life, asthma control and anxiety levels compared to usual care in adults with persistent asthma.

It was observed that the usual care and approach of the cognitive behavioral therapy of the studies was diverse and could require further investigation in the future.

In addition, it was reported that there is currently no evidence to use cognitive behavioral therapy to treat asthma in adolescents. Therefore, this is also an area that requires future research.

When is cognitive behavioral therapy not the best option?

  • If the client has a condition (for example, brain injury) that prevents rational thinking
  • If the client does not participate actively in the treatment (for example, he does not do his homework)
  • If the client does not like or does not trust the therapist (it may be better to see a different therapist)
  • If people simply look for “quick fixes”

There may be other reasons why cognitive behavioral therapy may not be appropriate for the individual, and this may need to be discussed by the patient with the therapist and / or professional.

Weston, Hodgekins and Langdon (2016) highlight in their systematic review and meta-analysis that more “definitive trials” are needed to assess whether cognitive behavioral therapy is a valid treatment for people with autism spectrum disorders.

Similarly, the systematic review by Michail, Birchwood and Tait (2017) concludes that there is not enough “robust” evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in treating social anxiety in people who have psychosis.

Harris (2015) found in his systematic review that there was “mixed” evidence to support the use of cognitive behavioral therapy to manage migraine headaches in adults.

On the other hand Huguet (2016) concludes that there are not enough appropriate applications of cognitive behavioral therapy “from a clinical and legal point of view”. Therefore, it is necessary to improve testing, accessibility and the development of applications for patients with depression, for example, by implementing high-quality scientific, technological and legal knowledge.

The Monticone review (2015) suggested that clients with subacute neck pain had significant pain relief in the short-term follow-up of cognitive behavioral therapy. However, Monticone (2015) also expressed that more research is needed to understand the long-term risks and benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy.

According to (Better Health Channel 2016) cognitive behavioral therapy is widely reported as “as effective as medication for treating depression and anxiety”.

A review by Hofmann (2012) concludes that there is strong evidence to support the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, particularly for “anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders, bulimia, anger management problems and general stress”.