Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that has been scientifically proven to be effective in the treatment of mental disorders. Besides effectiveness, CBT is also considered the most efficient type of psychotherapy in terms of cost-benefit analysis. Generally, a CBT course of treatment for neurosis rarely lasts more than 15-20 sessions. CBT consists in many therapeutic tools for treating mental disorders and emotional maladjustment (e.g., neurosis). Moreover, many concepts and tools of this type of psychotherapy are also used to improve the quality of life of ordinary people. In other words, CBT applications are not just limited to mental disorders.
Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy works to solve current problems and change unhelpful or dysfunctional thinking and behavior. Although this approach stresses that thought and mental consciousness cause mental disorders, it also acknowledges that there may be behaviors that cannot be controlled through rational thought, but rather is due to both prior conditioning and/or internal stimuli. It is important to say that CBT is pragmatic because undertakes for specific and well defined problems. It is also directive or “action oriented”, since therapist tries to actively assist the client in selecting specific strategies to address those problems.
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This therapeutic approach is different from the more traditional psychoanalytical one, where the therapist looks for the unconscious meaning behind the behaviors and then diagnoses the patient. Importantly, as Aaron Beck stated, this type of psychotherapy tends to undermine patient self-efficacy and promotes therapeutic dependency. This would be because this therapy assume that behaviors is the product of unconscious forces that only a professional can read in order to help a patient. Differently, CBT states that human behavior is mainly caused by human thought and consciousness and that the patient can learn to think differently in order to feel and to act differently. This idea not only is empirically grounded but also reinforces the patient’s self-efficacy.
Modern forms of CBT include a number of diverse but related techniques such as exposure therapy, stress inoculation training, cognitive processing therapy, relaxation training, dialectical behavior therapy, and also mindful therapy. The therapeutic relationship is collaborative: the therapist and the patient form a team in which the common goal is to solve the patient specific problem. In this sense, the patient can suggest ideas to the therapist and actively participates in the setup of therapeutic exercises.
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