How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Team Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, that helps you identify negative or destructive thought patterns - and change them. These thoughts are spontaneous and can further aggravate conditions such as depression and anxiety. 

Getting comfortable with the practice, CBT allows you to identify the negative thought, take a closer look at the current situation, and automatically replace that first thought with a more realistic and helpful response. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most effective and widely-used forms of psychotherapy in practice today. Here’s how it works. 

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works

Sometimes, having a distorted thought about something - whether you realize it or not - can cause you to be negative, jump to conclusions, engage in catastrophic thinking, and so on. If this is how you have learned to behave or what you have learned to believe about a certain situation, then your thoughts are going to come automatically. For instance, if you were bit by a dog when you were 8 years old, it was likely traumatic for you. And, you may still have a fear of dogs today because - in your mind - you think that all dogs are going to attack. 

The fear you have may be very real. But, in reality, it isn’t likely that every dog you encounter will attack you. In other words, just because you had a bad experience with a dog doesn’t mean all dogs will bring you bad experiences. 

CBT is all about changing this negative thought pattern and helping you to see a situation in a new light while letting go of your current thoughts. In order to do this, you must: 

  • Uncover unhealthy or negative situations in your life. 
  • Notice how you feel about the situation, such as your emotions, thoughts, feelings. 
  • Consider how your thinking may be skewed or inaccurate (this is often guided by a therapist). 
  • Change the way you see the situation. Base your response on reality or fact. 

Following these steps and talking them through with a therapist will allow you to begin to see a certain situation differently. 

When is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Used? 

There are many situations in which CBT is used. After all, life is ever-changing and always throws us challenges, such as grief and loss, medical illness, stressful life situations, and so forth. As they arise, individuals can work with a therapist to learn how to handle each particular situation and develop a way to cope with it. 

CBT is also used during treatment for many different mental health conditions, including: depression, all types of anxiety disorders, PTSD, bipolar disorders, Schizophrenia, OCD, phobias, substance abuse disorders, and more. 

Some therapists use CBT on its own or in combination with other treatments, including medications. 

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


When the mind is in the right place and focused as it should be, the benefits of CBT are incredible. You will find that with regular practice, it enables you to have a healthy mindset and pattern of thinking. 

  • Provides quick results when focusing on a particular situation. 
  • It involves a lot of problem-solving and goal-oriented activities. 
  • Treatment is relatively short (in as little as 5 sessions).
  • It can be learned through sessions in person or online. 
  • CBT can be successful without the use of medication. 

You cannot control the world around you, but you can control how you react to it and how you feel about it. CBT gives you the power to make this happen. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: What to Know

Change is difficult for most people and some patients struggle with being able to change their thinking about their situations. They may be able to recognize that something isn’t good, for instance, but they struggle with being able to change the way they view it. Sometimes treatment needs to get a bit more involved to reach the ability to make this change. 

It is not the key overnight success or healing. You can’t learn how CBT works and expect your life to change in an instant. It’s a gradual process and it takes time and practice. Sure, learning how to use CBT’s processes are rather simple, but putting them into practice can take time. 

And, most importantly, because CBT relies on the person, that person needs to be willing to change - willing to change their perspective. 

Interested in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? 

If you are interested in learning more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or how it may benefit you, then the team at South County Psychiatry is here for you. Contact us at 401-268-5333. Or, request an appointment online. 

Let us help you change your negative thought patterns.