Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to treat people with a wide range of mental health problems. CBT is based on the idea that how we think (cognition), how we feel (emotion) and how we act (behavior) all interact together. Specifically, our thoughts determine our feelings and our behavior.
Therefore, negative and unrealistic thoughts can cause us distress and result in problems. When a person suffers with psychological distress, the way in which they interpret situations becomes skewed, which in turn has a negative impact on the actions they take.
CBT aims to help people become aware of when they make negative interpretations, and of behavioral patterns which reinforce the distorted thinking. Cognitive therapy helps people to develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving which aims to reduce their psychological distress.
The cognitive therapist teaches clients how to identify distorted cognitions through a process of evaluation. The clients learn to discriminate between their own thoughts and reality. They learn the influence that cognition has on their feelings, and they are taught to recognize observe and monitor their own thoughts. The behavior part of the therapy involves setting homework for the client to do (e.g. keeping a diary of thoughts). The therapist gives the client tasks that will help them challenge their own irrational beliefs.