Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that has received extensive scientific support for the treatment of many different disorders. Compared with other forms of psychotherapy, CBT is usually focused on the present, and is problem-solving oriented. It teaches people how to gradually modify their own thoughts and behaviors to achieve lasting change in their feelings and their functioning. CBT is a time limited therapy and many problems can be successfully treated in 3 to 6 months.
Cognitive behavior therapy is based on the assumption that the way we perceive situations influences how we feel and how we behave. When people are in distress, they often do not think clearly and their thoughts are biased. Cognitive therapy helps people identify their distressing and dysfunctional thoughts and evaluate how realistic they are. Once identified, distorted thinking can be replaced by a more rational thinking. In treatment, patients learn to solve current problems, identify distorted thinking, modify maladaptive beliefs, relate to others in more effective ways, and change problematic behaviors. Patients are often able to maintain their improvement long after therapy has been completed.
While many forms of therapy are available, no other psychotherapeutic approach has been found to be more effective than CBT. Hundreds of scientific studies and over sixteen meta-analyses have demonstrated that cognitive therapy is more effective than medication in the treatment of depression, anxiety, OCD, phobias and other emotional conditions. In addition, a growing number of studies demonstrate the efficacy of CBT in treating such problems as relationship difficulties and marital distress, eating disorders, bipolar disorder (with medication), personality disorders, insomnia and others.