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What sort of techniques are used in cognitive-behavioral therapy?

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy, known as CBT, uses techniques that are more focused on thought and behavioral patterns than on traditional psychoanalytical approaches, explains the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapists help a patient identify unproductive or self-defeating thoughts, while psychoanalysts uncover insights into a patient's past to determine present reactions.

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Once harmful thought patterns are identified through CBT, the focus can then be turned toward correcting these thoughts or replacing them with more optimistic or productive ones, such as replacing a feeling of shame about obesity with the resolve to exercise. Positive thoughts are then used to create healthier habits that reinforce good behavior, such as going to the gym and then enjoying a hot bath.

Another example of CBT for people suffering from anxiety is the conscious slowing down of thoughts and physical movements whenever the patient feels an anxiety attack beginning. The patient makes a concerted effort to walk, talk and think more slowly, thus exerting greater control over the anxiety. Rationality is also of prime importance in CBT. Therapists may encourage patients struggling with an addiction to think through the consequences of their actions so that they are forced to confront the end result rather than the lesser evil of the immediate result.

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