Why Is CBT Effective For Mental Health Treatment?

As a greater emphasis is placed on treatment for people who suffer with mental disorders, people are wondering which treatment modalities work best when addressing different mental health issues. One form of treatment that has become popular over the last decade is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a treatment model that consists of blending two separate therapies—cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy—as a simultaneous treatment mechanism.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works with a therapist in a structured environment so that you learn the way that your thought-processes impact your behavior. CBT allows you to learn different ways to change your behavior by adjusting the way that you think about different situations.

The History of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive therapy, a treatment model developed by Aaron Beck, M.D. during the 1960s, focuses on addressing the cognitions, or thoughts, of an individual. Beck’s cognitive theory suggests that a person’s thoughts and beliefs will directly impact their moods and actions. Therefore, cognitive therapy aims to change a person’s thought process to take a more positive perspective. Behavioral therapy focuses specifically on a person’s behavior, with the emphasis placed on changing the behavior of the person through habitual conditioning.

During therapy, a treatment specialist specifically focuses on the way that your thoughts cause self-destructive or inappropriate behaviors. For example, a therapist strives to prevent substance abuse by understanding the thought processes that encourage or trigger temptations. By understanding the way that your thoughts cause the behavior, a therapist works on changing your perceptions so that you avoid the behavior in the future.

The Reason That CBT Is Effective In Treating Mental Illness

According to an article by Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D., the pragmatic and empirical evidence that supports the efficacy of CBT is overwhelming. Leahy, in addressing a challenge to the effectiveness of CBT, asserts that if the sciences of psychology and psychiatry are to be taken seriously, it is imperative that they rely on empirical research. While anecdotes and narratives may play a role in understanding certain mental conditions, it is the empirical data that provides the clear basis for measuring the efficacy of any particular treatment modality.

CBT is effective because it has the capacity to engage even the most serious problems. Therapists using CBT as a primary method for treating their clients report success with highly complex disorders like PTSD, specific phobias, generalized anxiety, social anxiety disorder, depressive disorder and many more. At the end of the day, the ability to address a person’s thought processes and their intrinsic behavior provides the foundation on which most mental disorders can be efficaciously engaged.

CBT and Depression

One of the most common and debilitating mental disorders in the U.S. is depression, and CBT appears to be highly effective in treating this condition. The effectiveness of CBT in treating depression lies primarily in the ability to address thoughts that negatively impact the patient’s understanding of their world and situations.

When these thoughts can be identified and corrected, it makes it easier for the behavioral aspect of the treatment to be effective. As more people seek effective treatment for their mental disorders, CBT will continue as a primary mental health treatment mechanism.

The Primary Benefits of CBT Include:

  • Identifying thoughts or beliefs that cause your behaviors
  • Making clear goals for the future
  • Taking measures to change your actions
  • Learning ways to cope with stress, anxiety or negative feelings
  • Preventing a relapse of certain emotional responses, like depression or anxiety

Using Therapy to Set Realistic Goals

CBT is part of a goal-oriented treatment plan. It uses the relationship between your thoughts and behavior to make gradual changes to your overall lifestyle. For example, you set a clear goal for your behavior during therapy and then start working on the steps to reach that goal.

If your goal focuses on reducing or avoiding substance abuse, then the treatment plan focuses on changing the thoughts that encourage substance abuse. It gradually changes your behaviors by changing the way that you think about the situation.

During therapy, a treatment specialist helps you determine the underlying behaviors or thoughts that cause negative feelings or emotional responses. Essentially, you learn about the reasons you act out in certain ways and then you make adjustments that help you set realistic long and short-term goals.

Treating a mental health disorder requires the right approach to the situation. In some cases, cognitive therapy helps you learn valuable coping strategies and ways to avoid inappropriate responses to the situation. If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health or addiction issues, contact Mental Health Center at Destination Hope.

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