Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) stems from learning theories; it was developed during the second half of the twentieth century. The CBT approach focuses on the clients’ ways of thinking and behaving, as well as the relationship between their thoughts, their actions/reactions, and how they feel. As its name implies, it works by identifying and modifying the thoughts and behaviors that may be causing difficulties to the clients, which then helps to improve their mood. More recently, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and mindfulness are complementary strategies which have been added to the CBT approach in order to increase the clients’ capacities to be present in the moment and to cope with their emotional insecurity. The goal of CBT is to teach clients that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment.
Cognitive-behavior therapy is generally short-term (three to six months) and focused on helping clients deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, clients learn how to identify and modify maladaptive thought patterns that have a negative influence on their behaviors. The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behavior.
With the use of evidence-based strategies such as systematic desensitization or cognitive restructuring, CBT enables clients to be actively in problem-solving. The CBT approach is commonly used in the treatment of a wide range of disorders including anxiety disorders (phobias, generalised-anxiety, etc.), addictions, mood disorders (depression or mania), communication difficulties, as well as self-esteem and confidence issues.