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 to 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 challenge and overcome them.
Cognitive restructuring can make the person rethink their negative thoughts from a more positive perspective.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves:
- Evaluation (for example, surveys)
- Education (for example, more excellent 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 on 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 to help the patient understand when they have a false or irrational belief.
The person may have the opportunity to challenge or rethink this perception.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an excellent tool for the treatment of the following psychological conditions:
- Social phobia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Low self-esteem
- Anger problems
- Misuse of substances such as alcohol
- Game problems
- Eating disorders
- Marital and relationship problems
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders. Still, 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 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 were diverse and could require further investigation in the future.
In addition, it was reported that there is currently no evidence of to use of 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 look for “quick fixes.”
There may be other reasons why cognitive behavioral therapy may not be appropriate for the individual. This may need to be discussed by the patient with the therapist and 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 good 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.
In his systematic review, Harris (2015) found 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 cognitive-behavioral therapy’s long-term risks and benefits.
According to (Better Health Channel 2016), cognitive behavioral therapy is widely reported as “as effective as medication for treating depression and anxiety.”