The MHS Journals

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CBT Therapy Techniques

Nov 17, 2022

If you have ever attended therapy or are familiar with psychology, there are high chances that you have heard about Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT addresses specific, prevalent issues, such as changing the negative thoughts that might worsen and contribute to mental and emotional difficulties and health issues, such as depression, and replacing them with objective and realistic ideas, which leads to positive feelings and helpful behaviors.

This article helps you understand the techniques used with CBT, what happens in CBT sessions, and how it can help you.

What Techniques are Used with CBT?

CBT is a psychotherapeutic treatment that combines cognitive therapy with behavior therapy by identifying faulty, destructive thinking patterns and emotional responses or behavior and substituting them with desirable ways of thinking, emotional response, and behavior.
Therapists use a wide range of CBT techniques and approaches to address people’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Some types of CBT therapy approaches include:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DTB) – This common CBT approach addresses unhelpful thoughts and behaviors while incorporating other treatment strategies like mindfulness and emotional response.
  • Cognitive therapy centers on identifying and changing unhealthy thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviors.
  • Multimodal therapy aims to treat psychological issues by focusing on different but interconnected modalities such as cognition, imagery, sensation, behavior, interpersonal factors, and biological consideration.
  • Rational emotive behavior therapy (RETB) involves identifying irrational beliefs, challenging them, and helping people recognize and change them.

Your therapist might use various CBT techniques depending on the issues you are dealing with and the goals you aim to achieve. Some of the CBT therapy techniques often used in therapy include:

Cognitive Restructuring or Reframing

This technique involves identifying negative thought patterns, exploring them, and challenging why you believe in them. For example, in CBT therapy sessions, therapists might ask individuals to process thoughts about certain situations to help them identify negative patterns. After identifying these thoughts, the therapist teaches individuals to reframe them to be positive and productive.

Guided Discovery

This is a CBT therapy technique where therapists familiarize themselves with individuals’ opinions by asking questions designed to challenge their beliefs and broaden their thinking. Guided discovery helps people be fruitful since they learn to view things from a different perspective they might not have considered before.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure to cognitive behavior therapy techniques helps people confront their fears and anxiety. Your therapist slowly exposes you to things that trigger fear or anxiety while guiding you on how to handle them. For example, exposing you to more challenging assignments makes you feel more confident and less vulnerable to things that cause fear.

Journaling and Thought Record

Writing in therapy sessions is an effective way to gather an individual’s thoughts and moods. For example, your therapist might ask you to list the positive and negative thoughts between sessions, the time they occur, their sources, and how you react. This CBT therapy technique identifies new behaviors, emotional tendencies, and thoughts to change them, adapt, and cope with them.

Activity Scheduling and Behavior Activation

This CBT technique is designed to help people increase the behaviors they should be doing more such as going for walks and meditating. Identifying and scheduling helpful behaviors increases the likelihood of them being done. This technique is beneficial, especially among people who do not engage in many rewarding activities due to fear, depression, or anxiety.

Behavioral Experiments

Therapists use behavioral experiment techniques among people with anxiety disorders that involve catastrophic thinking. For example, before beginning a task that usually makes you nervous or anxious, your therapist might ask you to predict what might happen and discuss whether the prediction came true. This lowers anxiety since, after engaging in these tasks for some time, people recognize that the predicted catastrophe is not likely to happen.

Relaxation and Stress Reduction Techniques

In CBT, therapists use relaxation to lower stress and increase control when approaching problems. There are several ways to relax, such as performing deep breathing exercises, watching videos and images, and listening to audio recordings. This technique is used especially among people suffering from mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and panic disorders and might be used with or without the guidance of a therapist.

Role Playing

The therapist uses this technique to work through different behaviors, which is helpful among people suffering from fear and anxiety. The therapist asks an individual to play out or experiment with possible scenarios in which they imagine the worst outcome. Letting the scenario play out helps the individual recognize that everything they fear will come to pass, and they can manage the outcome.

Successive Approximation

This CBT therapy technique is commonly used on people who have difficulties completing tasks and involves identifying compelling tasks and breaking them into smaller achievable steps. Therapists use this technique to enhance an individual’s confidence as each step is built upon the previous step, so the more steps you complete successfully, the more confidence you gain.

What Happens During A CBT Session?

In the first CBT session, therapists ask questions to gather information and understand the problem you want them to work on. It might take a few sessions to understand an individual’s problem. Still, after that, the therapist formulates a treatment plan, such as medication and group or individual therapy, depending on the individual’s goals.

During the therapy session, your therapist encourages you to discuss your emotions and feelings. Open communication is essential so ensure you find a therapist with whom you are comfortable. During the course of treatment, your therapist may ask you to complete various assignments, including reading, completing worksheets, and practicing skills learned in sessions in everyday life.

CBT takes about an hour, but this might vary depending on an individual’s need. Get a trained CBT therapist with the experience to handle your specific problem, as they might help you benefit more from the therapy.

What Can CBT Help With

CBT is important in helping with many everyday problems as it aims to teach people to control how they interpret and handle issues within their environment. Apart from mental health issues, CBT can also help you with other issues, such as:

  • Conflict resolutions
  • Dealing with grief
  • Improving communication skills and self-esteem
  • Coping with physical health problems
  • Handling relationship problems
  • Managing strong emotions

Whether alone or combined with other therapies and medication, CBT has always been effective, and you do not need a medical diagnosis to benefit from it.

CBT Therapy Options for Mental Health

Are you searching for the best CBT therapy services in Minnesota? Mental Health Systems offer accessible and effective therapy options that guarantee recovery from various mental illnesses.

Feel free to contact Mental Health Systems for more information or to request an appointment online.


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