Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular forms of therapy. Given its widespread popularity around the world, tons of people are curious about how it works. One of the most common questions is what principle underlies cognitive behavioral therapy?
The truth is that there are a number of principles involved. Trying to summarize CBT under one principle is like trying to explain a sports game by only talking about one rule. In this article we’ll explore the basic principles underlying CBT.
What Principle Underlies Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
If CBT could be summed up in a single principle, that principle would probably be: how you think determines how you feel. However, most practitioners agree that there are more underlying principles than that. In her book, Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond, Judy Beck identifies 10 of these principles. Since its publication these principles have been adopted by a large number of CBT practitioners.
10 Principles of CBT
These principles are:
- CBT acknowledges an ever-evolving formulation of the patient and her problems in cognitive terms. Therapists must consider a number of factors in a patient’s life as well as their consistent evolution, throughout childhood and throughout the therapy as it progresses.
- CBT requires a good client-therapist relationship. Without a strong relationship the therapy will fail.
- CBT emphasizes collaboration and active participation. Patients need to be invested in their treatment.
- CBT focuses on problems and goals Tackling specific problems with specific goals makes CBT more manageable.
- CBT initially emphasizes the present. Focusing on present-day problems rather than past problems is important.
- CBT is educative; it aims to teach the client to be his/her own therapist, and emphasizes relapse prevention. A good therapist will ultimately teach their client to be independent.
- CBT aims to meet a time limit. Therapists aim to provide relief from psychological symptoms within a set number of sessions.
- CBT sessions have structure. Following a similar pattern during sessions can help things move forward more effectively.
- CBT teaches patients to identify, evaluate, and respond to their dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs. The whole point of CBT is to help patients acknowledge which parts of their cognition and psyche do not serve them. They will then learn how to discard or improve upon these patterns.
- CBT uses a variety of techniques to change thinking, mood, and behavior. There are many different tools, techniques, and skills that CBT practitioners may use to help encourage their patients to make positive changes.
CBT is a popular method of therapy all across the world. One of the reasons that it remains so popular is because it is strongly structured and relies on sound principles. Many CBT therapists agree that the 10 principles discussed in this article are fundamental to their practice.
Remember, however, that CBT isn’t effective for everyone. It can be difficult to employ CBT when you are struggling from a more serious condition such as schizophrenia. Even if you’re struggling with a milder condition, CBT isn’t always for everyone. This list of pros and cons should help you to decide whether or not CBT is the best option for you.