Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral Therapy

Treatment Options - Cognitive Behavioral

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term therapy method for treating various conditions, including depression. CBT aims to identify thoughts, patterns, and beliefs that could negatively affect your life and address these patterns. 

CBT is a very goal-oriented therapy method that is focused on solving current challenges you are facing in your life. It is not focused on going deep into your past experiences. It is about analyzing everyday situations and giving you the tools you need to deal with what you are experiencing.

With depression, CBT can help you recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that are contributing to depression. CBT can work as well as medication for depression. CBT is often used alongside medication to treat severe depression. 

Core Principles of CBT

The primary theory behind CBT is that your behaviors, feelings, and thoughts all impact each other. It is driven by the belief that you can replace problematic thought patterns with more helpful and positive ones. 

Changing the way you view your thoughts can improve your quality of life. 

Within CBT, there are three levels of cognition. 

  • Core beliefs: These are informed by your childhood and are rooted in how you view yourself, your environment, and your future. 
  • Dysfunctional assumptions: People, by nature, hold onto negative thoughts more easily than positive thoughts. These negative thoughts are cognitive distortions and irrational thought patterns that impact your view of reality. 
  • Automatic negative thoughts: These are negative thoughts and perceptions of reality that happen involuntarily in your mind and can impact how you feel. 

CBT gives you tools to reframe such negative thoughts and how you view situations. 

Example of Reframing Automatic Negative Thoughts

For example, if you text someone and they don’t text you back on the same day, you might think, “They don’t like me. They don’t care about me. They no longer want to be my friend.” 

This negative thought pattern may spiral and result in more negative thoughts and actions related to your relationships. 

With CBT therapy, if you text someone and they don’t text you right back, you train yourself to think about the other possibilities, “Maybe they are busy today.” 

Your thoughts would not spiral into additional negative thoughts, which can make depression and anxiety even worse.

Steps Involved with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment

With CBT, your treatment will follow a series of steps. There may be some variations on how your exact treatment process works. However, the steps below are a good overview of what you can expect. 

Your first session will be focused on your therapist gathering information about you. Your therapist will want to learn about your current and past physical and emotional health. They will want to find out the situations and issues you want to focus on. At Options MD, this process is simplified. Your therapist will already have some of this information from your intake forms. If you have a psychiatrist at Options MD, your therapist and psychiatrist will coordinate your care. 

By the end of your first few sessions, you should understand the following things: 

  • The goals of your treatment
  • How long each of your sessions will be
  • How many overall therapy sessions you may need to meet your goals

Your therapist will take the time to understand your needs and goals and develop a personalized course of action. 

Identify troubling conditions or situations in your life

First, you will work with your therapist to identify what problems and goals you want to focus on in your sessions. This can be a range of issues, such as symptoms of mental health disorders, grief, or anger. Whatever situation is troubling you in your life. 

Become aware of your thoughts about these issues

Second, you will work with your therapist to share your thoughts about the problems and issues you want to work on. That means thinking about and observing your self-talk, how you interpret the meaning of a situation, and the beliefs you hold about yourself, other people, and events. This step is about becoming self-aware. 

Identify negative or inaccurate thinking

Third, you and your therapist will focus on identifying patterns of thinking that could be contributing to your problems and issues. 

Your therapist will help you learn how to pay attention to how you respond to different situations. Your therapist will help you focus on your physical, emotional, and behavioral responses to challenging situations.

Reshape and change negative and inaccurate thinking

Your therapist will help you learn how to determine if your response is based on an inaccurate perception or if it is based on facts. This can be a challenging step, as it is about changing your way of thinking about yourself and the situations you find yourself in. It is about changing your thinking habits, which can happen with practice. 

This is the general process that CBT follows. CBT is considered a short-term therapy option and generally ranges between 5 and 20 sessions. It is about giving you tools to deal with troubling conditions or situations in your life.

The length of your treatment will depend on various factors, such as

  • The severity of your symptoms
  • How long you have had your symptoms
  • How quickly you make progress with your treatment
  • The amount of stress you are under
  • The amount of outside support you are getting in dealing with challenging situations

CBT may not cure your depression by itself, but it can help a lot. It can provide you with the power to deal with the challenges you face and give you ways to feel more positive about your life. 

CBT sessions can be done one-on-one, or they can be done in group sessions with other people who are experiencing similar issues. At Options MD, CBT sessions are one-on-one during a telehealth session, offering a more personalized approach.

Common Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

Each CBT session is crafted to fit your unique needs. Here are some popular CBT techniques that are commonly used in treatment. 


Catastrophic thinking is when you automatically believe the worst possible outcome will happen, no matter if that outcome is likely or not. With decatastrophizing, you will learn to ask yourself questions when you start to engage in catastrophic thinking. 

  • What am I worried about?
  • What is the likelihood that my worst worries will come true? 
  • If my worst worries come true, what is the worst that could happen? 
  • If my worst worries come true, what will happen? Will I be okay?

This technique is about stepping back and identifying what you are worried about and what could happen. It is about adding realism to a situation. 

The ABC Technique

Another common technique used in CBT is the ABC technique, where you consider the following: 

  • Activating event (A)
  • Behaviors (B)
  • Consequences (C ) 

When a problem occurs, you look at what happened, how you responded to what happened, and the consequences of your actions. This technique is about helping you change the way you think and respond to situations.

Keeping a Journal

Keeping a journal is a common CBT technique. You can use a journal to write down what is happening and how you feel when something happens to you. This tool can help you identify unhelpful thinking patterns, which you can address with your therapist. 

These are just three of many techniques that are used with CBT. Your therapist will help you find techniques that are most effective for you.

Systematic desensitization

This technique combines the use of relaxation exercises with exposure to something you fear. The idea behind it is that you can replace feelings of fear and anxiety about specific situations with a more relaxed response, giving you greater control over the situation. You are gradually exposed to the thing that you fear, allowing you to overcome and become desensitized to it gradually. 


Flooding is a similar technique to systematic desensitization. With flooding, though, you directly face your fears full-on from the start instead of facing them gradually as you do with systematic desensitization. 

Advantages of Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Some distinct advantages come with using CBT.  CBT has been shown to provide patients with enduring positive effects even when the therapy is finished. Going through CBT can help prevent depression relapse and provide patients with long-term tools to stay mentally healthy. 

CBT is also a cost-effective therapy, as it is a short-term therapy option focused on delivering actionable results for patients immediately. 

What Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help With

CBT can be used to help improve mental health symptoms, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Sleep problems

It can also be used to treat other mental health symptoms as well. 

CBT is also a helpful therapy technique for managing emotional situations. When stressful situations occur, this therapy teaches you skills such as: 

  • Identifying ways to manage your emotions
  • Learning how to cope with grief and loss
  • Preventing a relapse of mental illness symptoms
  • Helping you learn better ways to resolve and communicate within relationships
  • Tools for overcoming emotional trauma you’ve experienced

CBT is often most effective as a treatment when it’s combined with other treatment options, such as medications. 

Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Get the Help You Need

Finding the proper treatment when you have treatment-resistant depression can be challenging. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the 200 treatment options our expert team will consider when developing your treatment plan. 

Options MD is here to help. Text us to start treatment now. Join our Facebook community, where you can connect with other individuals with treatment-resistant depression. 

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