Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Definition, Techniques, and How it Works

Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy-CBT, CBT techniques and definition

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one type of psychotherapy. This therapy is widely used to treat a variety of psychiatric problems, including stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. Cognitive therapy aims to train your cognitive way of thinking (functioning) and acting (behavior). This is why cognitive therapy is better known as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Through this therapy, it is hoped that people with mental disorders can have a different point of view on each problem they experience as well as how to react to all these problems. Not only that, this therapy also helps people with mental problems to find the solutions independently. In addition CBS has also been shown to be effective in treating other mental health disorders, such as:

  • Phobia
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Panic disorder
  • Sexual disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Moreover, physical illnesses related to stress levels or psychological conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), can also use cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment method.

CBT Techniques

The fundamental principle of CBT is that your thought patterns influence your emotions, which in turn influence your behaviour.

For example, CBT technique emphasizes how negative ideas can lead to unpleasant feelings and behaviors. Reframing your beliefs in a more positive light, on the other hand, can lead to more good sentiments and positive behaviors.

Summarizing from these are some CBT techniques that are most often used:

  • When the client realizes that some thoughts are irrational and unhealthy, it does not mean that his behavior can automatically change, so that we cannot use only one technique but uses several techniques, such as: relaxation, journaling, so on.
  • Behavioral experiments: to test a person’s way of thinking which provides objective evidence of which way of thinking is better. Example: “If I criticize myself for eating too much, then I will eat less too much” VS “If I talk to myself in a nice way, then I will overeat less”
  • CBT Thought Records: to test how valid a person’s way of thinking is. Example: When a student gets feedback from his lecturer, he thought that he is useless. The student can do a “Thought Records” — my lecturer gave positive feedback yesterday OR my lecturer gave me feedback, if he thinks I am useless maybe he won’t give me some feedbacks.
  • Thought Records help transform irrational beliefs into more rational and logical ones. Behavioral experiments help change the client’s irrational beliefs and feelings (even if what they feel is true regardless of reality).
  • Schedule pleasurable activities (especially for clients with depression). Daily activity schedule: provides a sense of control, and satisfaction with accomplishment.
  • Systematic desensitization: slowly approach the object / thing that is the source of the client’s problem (starting from the less scary / worrying thing to the most worrying / scary thing).
  • Implosive technique: directs the client to imagine a threatening stimulus situation over and over again. Because it is done continuously and scary consequences do not occur, it is hoped that the client’s anxiety will be reduced.
  • Homework: giving homework to practice the techniques that have been learned during the counseling process.
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How Cognitive Behavior Therapy Works

The concept of CBT is to realize that thoughts, physical sensations, feelings, and actions are a unity and influence each other. Negative thoughts and feelings can keep you stuck in the same problem and feel even more pressing.

This condition will eventually cause changes in the way you act, think, and cause complaints from the physical side. This is why you need cognitive behavioral therapy, as it can help you turn negative thoughts and feelings into more positive ones in the following ways:

Problem Identification

The first thing you need to know from this therapy is to be aware and accept if you are having a problem. Later, the therapist will help you identify the problem as well as the root of the problem. The reason is, the problems that arise can come from other problems that you may not be aware of. Well, the therapist will also help you find the most basic cause of the emergence of negative thoughts and feelings.

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Focus on Finding Solutions

In addition to helping identify problems that occur, the therapist will also help you break big problems into smaller problems, so it will be easier for you to find solutions. However, you have to find the right psychologist.

Looking for the Easiest Way to Improve the Sufferer’s Mindset

Once big problems are broken down into simpler ones, you will begin to be taught to see the relationship between one problem and another, as well as the impact of each problem on you. The goal is to change how you assess any problems that arise. You will also be helped to stay focused on the obstacles that are happening now, not the past or the future

Help Cultivate Positive Habits

The last is to help eliminate your old habits of thinking and change them in a more positive way. After undergoing several sessions of CBT to treat anxiety disorder, the therapy will repeat these steps to find out if this method is right and beneficial for you, so that you too get the best solution regarding problem solving.


  • Psychology Today. Accessed in 2021. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • WebMD. Accessed in 2021. Cognitive Therapy for Depression.
  • Mayo Clinic. Accessed in 2021. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • Healthline. Accessed in 2021. 9 CBT Techniques for Better Mental Health


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