Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

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For many, entering into therapy can be intimidating. You may not know what to expect, or what you'll talk about. One of the most common forms of talk therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a way of learning your own thought patterns. While you can’t control other people or situations, you can control the way you perceive and react to a particular situation. CBT teaches you the skills to change your thinking and help you manage your reactions to stressful people and situations.

CBT can treat many health concerns. Some of these include:

  • Depression and mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia nervosa
  • Insomnia
  • Substance abuse
  • Relationship problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger

What To Expect From Treatment at UVA Health

The goal of CBT is to change your thought process. This will allow healthy and realistic responses to difficult situations. You may receive CBT in one-on-one therapy sessions or in a group setting. CBT can be divided into two parts: functional analysis and skills training.

Functional Analysis

Functional analysis is when you and your therapist talk through stressful situations. You'll look at your thought process, and determine which patterns helped and which ones worsened these situations. In some cases, the patterns that helped you may be unhealthy, like turning to substance abuse or disordered eating.
You and your therapist will analyze the patterns and see how realistic and reasonable they are. 

Skills Training

Once you've identified thought patterns, you can determine which are healthy and which aren't. You'll learn to think in healthier ways, and think more critically before jumping to conclusions.
As you practice new, rational responses they'll become your new thought patterns. By working on these skills, you'll develop healthier ways to respond to stressful situations.