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13 Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques

13 Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective models for treating a wide range of psychological problems. Here are some of the most effective and interesting techniques.

13 Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques

Last updated: April 6, 2024

Main techniques for Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) It includes a set of strategies that psychologists can use very effectively and practically in their daily work. Thanks to this well-established approach, it is possible to successfully treat depressive disorders, addictions, relationship problems and even serious psychological disorders. This treatment therefore represents a very valuable resource.

Search like one on Frontiers in psychiatry One published study described cognitive behavioral therapy as the “gold standard of psychotherapy” because there are numerous studies proving its effectiveness. A comprehensive understanding of the underlying mechanisms provides a clear vision for this therapeutic school.

Cognitive behavioral therapy was the first model to meet rigorous standards to scientifically prove its effectiveness and benefit.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

In the 1960s, psychiatrist Aaron Beck developed cognitive behavioral therapy, which has since served as the basis for the treatment of various psychological disorders.

This approach, based on conversation and focusing on the problem, represented an advance over other, more classical models such as psychoanalysis. Let us now look at the principles on which it is based:

  • Psychological problems arise from – Disordered and unhelpful ways of thinking.
  • We all can New strategies Learn how to develop healthy ways of thinking and behaving.
  • The suffering passes Automatic thought patterns Which we have learned and reinforce every day.

Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to achieve the following goals:

  • the Behavior and motivation To understand the individual.
  • the patient Boost self-confidence Let's say.
  • New and effective tools Coping strategies Let's say.
  • Thought distortions and irrational thinking patterns To detect.
  • To empower the patient To become your own therapist.

In contrast to psychoanalysis, the past is less important in this model. Rather, it is important to give individuals the tools to deal with suffering and problems here and now.

Already read? 5 Cognitive distortions that trigger negative thoughts

Main techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy

The strategic principle of cognitive behavioral therapy is that a person's way of thinking affects his feelings and behavior. Therefore, treatment focuses on intervening in the cognitive mechanisms that, according to this approach, form the basis of psychological disorders. There are a number of techniques aimed at achieving this goal:

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1. Cognitive restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is a psychological process that allows Identify and change negative or dysfunctional thinking patterns. This challenges a person's automatic negative or distorted thought patterns, which are often unconscious and lead to emotional suffering and maladaptive behavior.

This technique, one of the most widely used and effective techniques in cognitive behavioral therapy, was demonstrated in a study conducted by the Institute Stanford University And other useful research in treating anxiety.

2. Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy aims to help patients confront and overcome their fears and anxieties by gradually exposing themselves to situations or stimuli that cause discomfort.

In recent years, exposure therapy has become… Advantages of virtual reality benefited. The treatment process begins with an analysis to understand the mechanisms and thoughts that reinforce the fears or phobias. The goal is to break the cycle of avoidance and enable patients to better manage their fears. In each session, the psychologist gradually guides the person to confront his fears.

3. Systematic desensitization

Systematic desensitization, one of the most important techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy, was developed by a psychologist Joseph Wolpe It was developed and is similar to the exposure method, but it starts from a specific premise: This method is based on the idea that Fear and relaxation cannot exist at the same time. Therefore, before exposure to fears, a relaxation response is elicited in patients. The wizard performs the following steps:

  • Create a hierarchy of patient concerns
  • Training in relaxation techniques
  • Imaginary exposure
  • Direct exposure

One in a trade magazine American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education Published studies and other research demonstrate the effectiveness of this method in treating test anxiety.

4. Diary

Keeping a diary is a common practice in cognitive behavioral therapy. This technique supports the therapeutic process by helping patients become aware of their mental narratives and how they affect their mood and behavior.

5. Activity planning and behavioral activation

Behavioral activation and activity planning are important techniques, especially for patients with depression or addiction problems. The main goal is to encourage patients to adopt healthy behaviors. New activities are planned to improve well-being, mental focus and break self-destructive behavior patterns.

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6. Modeling techniques

Modeling techniques are used to help people develop new skills and behaviors through observation. This can have a huge impact on the individual and enable them to be beneficial Tools for change and well-being To learn. These technologies include:

  • Verbal modeling Through instructions or explanations
  • symbolic modeling Through videos, movies or stories
  • Live modeling Through direct observation of a person exhibiting the desired behavior
  • Self-reinforcement By the role model, who encourages the observer's correct behavior through praise or reward

7. Stress vaccination

The stress grafting technique was developed in the 1970s by Donald Meichenbaum It was developed to help people deal with stressful situations. study Isfahan University of Medical Sciences Other research has proven its effectiveness in reducing stress in cancer patients. This technique is based on three principles:

  • Psychological education about stress and its effects
  • Learn coping strategies to deal with stressful situations
  • Practice and apply the techniques learned in daily life to enhance stress resistance

8. Problem solving training

In an increasingly complex world, problem-solving skills are crucial. Cognitive behavioral therapy pays special attention to this area and guides patients through the following steps:

  • Identify daily challenges and problems
  • Understand the causes and background of problems
  • Consider different strategies for solving problems
  • Evaluate and choose the most appropriate solution strategy
  • Regulating stress and anxiety during the resolution process
  • Review results and adjust strategies as necessary

9. Self-control

Self-control allows us to act more thoughtfully and feel in control of our lives. There are few resources as essential in mental health as empowering patients to manage themselves. Thanks to this psychological competence, a person achieves:

  • Reducing impulsiveness
  • Better regulation of emotions
  • Make more consistent decisions
  • Healthy connections between people

10. Effective behavior change techniques

Effective behavior change strategies are a cornerstone of cognitive behavioral therapy. The goal is to create healthy behaviors and reduce dysfunctional or harmful behaviors. These strategies include:

  • punishment
  • extinction
  • Saturation
  • time out
  • Overcorrection
  • Differential gain
  • Positive or negative reinforcement
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11. Relaxation and breathing techniques

Cognitive behavioral therapy has emerged in recent years Mindfulness techniques Integrate it into their methodology. This ancient practice has useful tools for relieving many types of symptoms. One in the magazine Indian Journal of Psychiatry A published study and other research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness is effective in treating anxiety disorders.

Breathing, relaxation, and mindfulness exercises are effective ways to enhance mental health.

12. Down arrow technique

Using the down arrow technique, a cognitive-behavioral psychologist identifies the roots of a patient's dysfunctional thoughts. Through a series of questions, the main cause is identified and the patient becomes aware of how his or her irrational cognitive attitudes are causing his discomfort. This allows a deeper insight into the underlying mechanisms and supports the treatment process.

13. Goal setting technique

In cognitive behavioral therapy, it is necessary to support the patient in clarifying and setting goals. It is assumed that people need stimulation in their daily lives in order to progress, feel useful, and pursue their passions. To train a patient to use this technique, therapists follow the following guidelines:

  • Clarifying dreams and emotions
  • Definition of goals
  • Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound)
  • Break these goals down into smaller steps
  • Developing work plans and mechanisms
  • Maintain motivation
  • Track and evaluate results

Also interesting: “The Wise Mind”, the inner voice in Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Advantages and limitations of cognitive behavioral therapy

One in the magazine Education and inspiration for general practice A published article highlights the main benefit of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. These strategies have a long-term positive impact on patients. However, when considering its limitations, it should be noted that it aims to address current problems.

This means that they do not delve into the patient's past and do not always address the underlying cause of the problem. However, it enables a person to take control of his life by focusing on his mental focus. This is a good starting point for improving mental health.