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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Techniques

The cognitive behavioral therapy techniques (CBT) are used to alter maladaptive thought patterns. Here is more on the different techniques grouped under this therapy.
Shashank Nakate
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
The cognitive behavioral therapy is used in the treatment of various disorders related to mood, personality, anxiety, substance abuse, etc. The 'Aaron Beck Cognitive Behavior Therapy' is one such therapeutic approach that deals with most of the problems listed above.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
It is a therapy which takes a psycho-therapeutic approach to solving problems associated with behavior, dysfunctional emotions and cognition. In the cognitive behavioral therapy, a systematic and goal-oriented process is followed. The basic idea around which CBT techniques revolve is that no external factors but inherent ones are responsible for the behavior we exhibit and feelings we experience; in short, our thoughts guide our behavioral patterns. CBT techniques are executed in a time-bound manner. On an average, 16 sessions are needed to complete this therapy.
List of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques
The cognitive behavioral therapy exercises help in modifying a person's behavioral patterns. Behavioral patterns are modified for bringing about positive changes in the patient's personality. So, let us study the CBT techniques one-by-one.
Cognitive Rehearsal

In this technique, the patient is asked to recall a problematic situation from his/her past. The therapist and patient work on the problem to find a solution for it. The therapist asks the patient to rehearse positive thoughts in his/her mind; rehearsing positive thoughts helps in making appropriate changes to the patient's thought processes. The power of imagination proves to be of great help when you are doing such type of exercises.
Validity Testing

In this technique, validity of thoughts of the patient are tested by the therapist; the patient is allowed to defend his/her viewpoint with the help of an objective evidence. The faulty nature or invalidity of beliefs held by the patient is exposed if he/she is unable to produce any kind of objective evidence.
Writing in a Journal

It is a practice of maintaining a diary to keep an account of the different situations encountered by patients in day-to-day life. Thoughts associated with these situations and behavior exhibited in response are also mentioned in the diary. The therapist and patient review what all is written in the diary and try to identify the patient's maladaptive thought patterns. The discussion which takes place between patient and therapist is helpful for finding the different ways in which behavior of the patient gets affected.
Guided Discovery

The purpose behind using this technique is to help patients to understand their cognitive distortions. Patients are offered the necessary assistance and guidance by therapists to understand how they process information. It allows patients to alter the way they process of information. Upon completion of this treatment, the patient's perception of the world undergoes a profound change and he/she starts seeing things with a new outlook. A change in perception enables the patient to modify his/her behavioral patterns.

It is one of the important cognitive behavioral therapy techniques wherein therapists perform role-playing exercises. These cognitive behavioral therapy exercises teach patients how to respond in difficult situations. The patient sees the behavior of the therapist as a model to overcome his/her own behavioral problems.

'Homework' is actually a set of assignments to be completed by patients. During their sessions with therapists, the patients are asked to take down notes, review audiotapes of these sessions and read articles/books related to this therapy.
Aversive Conditioning

In this technique the appeal of maladaptive behavior is lessened with the help of 'dissuasion'. The patient is exposed to an unpleasant stimulus while he/she is engaged in a particular behavior for which treatment is needed. The end result of this exercise is that the patient learns to associates the unpleasant stimulus with the maladaptive behavior in question; he/she becomes averse to behaving in such a manner.
Systematic Positive Reinforcement

It is one of the CBT techniques in which a certain kind of behavior (positive) is rewarded with positive reinforcement. A reward system is used to reinforce the importance of positive behavior in the minds of patients.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression

CBT is one of the effective therapies used for treating mild depression. This therapy is considered to be as effective as treatment with antidepressant medication. CBT is known to deliver good results in adults as well as adolescents. This kind of treatment can be most effective when the patient is motivated enough to overcome his/her behavioral problems.

CBT for Children

The cognitive behavioral therapy for children requires the therapist to play an active role in the treatment. This is because children are not capable of labeling or describing their thoughts and feelings as accurately as adults do. Therefore, the therapist has to perform the crucial job of extracting necessary information about the child's thoughts and behavioral patterns. It is also important that CBT sessions for children are completed in a short span of time.

Structured Format of the CBT

The structured model of CBT makes this therapy more effective than most other psychotherapy techniques. CBT is basically a time-bound therapy during which the client (patient) has to attend sessions with a therapist. The patient has to do some homework before attending the next; which means, he/she is required to actively participating in the whole process.

The cognitive behavioral therapy techniques help in solving many problems that occur from maladaptive thoughts and behavioral patterns. Therapists and patients (clients) make use of the above-mentioned techniques to cure most of the psychological problems in a time-bound and effective manner.