Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy offers help to teens who may be struggling with things such as ADHD, OCD, eating disorders, addiction, anxiety, and more...This article helps define cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, and explains the benefits of CBT with struggling teens.

Therapy is a broad term for a number of types of psychological treatment administered by someone professional trained in the field of mental health to a patient or client who is seeking insight, change, understanding, or some other goal. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, also sometimes styled Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is a commonly used group of therapies that is used with teens as well as adults. This article provides an introduction.

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy refers to a group of therapeutic techniques that help a patient come to understand the role that thinking plays in feeling and action and to examine the validity of thoughts with an eye to changing thoughts that are irrational or interfering with feeling and action. It removes the focus on externals, like people, events, and situations, as being responsible for how one feels, and focuses this responsibility within the person.

Some of approaches to cognitive behavior therapy include Cognitive Therapy, Dialectic Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, and Rational Living Therapy. Whichever type of therapy is followed, it is advised that a systematic approach will yield the best results.

CBT is collaborative. The therapist and the patient make joint decisions about treatment goals and other important matters. This means that the content, timing of presentation, and how the material of CBT is presented are geared to the patient. Thus, a CBT therapist with experience with teens has some general background that might make him or her a good match for a particular teen, but because of the individualized nature of the therapy, still has to make a personal, empathic connection for the therapy to work.

One underlying element that pervades most forms of cognitive behavior therapy (Beck’s Cognitive Therapy is an exception) is an emphasis on stoicism, an outlook on things beyond our control in life that is based on the approach of the Stoic  philosophers, such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Emperor Marcus Aurelius. In this aspect of CBT, the difficult situation a person faces is separated from the way the person feels about that situation.

CBT makes the point that whether or not one can change the situation, one may be able to alter one’s feelings, so that rather than feeling terrible about a difficult situation, one feels calm about a difficult situation. By altering one’s feelings, it is suggested that, at the very least, one has one less problem to deal with and one may, in fact, be in a better situation to address the situation in whatever way(s) seem appropriate.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - CBT also encourages an analogy between thoughts and hypotheses. It suggests that, just as a hypothesis is bound to change if new information or facts come to light that call it into question, so it should be with thoughts. Taking this attitude prevents thoughts, and the feelings and actions that might follow from them, that are merely the result of habit or outdated information.

Finally, Cognitive Behavior Therapy -CBT approaches stress the idea of homework. The idea is that a therapy session is not sufficient time per week to devote to a crucial goal.

What Are Benefits of Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Here are some of the benefits of cognitive behavior therapy:

• It is designed to be a short-term program. The average length of a program of treatment is 16 sessions.

• CBT has undergone evaluation in many clinical trials as used in relationship to certain problems. It has been found, for example, to be effective in the treatment of:

  • cocaine abuse
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • major depressive disorder, substance abuse disorder, and conduct disorder (coexisting)
  • purging and non-purging eating disorders (ED)
  • insomnia
  • seasonal affective disorder (SD)

• It helps patients learn ways of coping with painful emotions in any area of life, not just those that happen to be the subject of the consultation.

• It can be combined with pharmacological therapy (medication).


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