Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); it’s a therapeutic approach that is able to be applied to a wide selection of problems, making it a very popular course of treatment for issues such as anxiety disorders, general stress, substance abuse and addiction, and eating disorders.
Developed by Aaron Beck, CBT is defined as the expansion of the scope of behavior therapy to include cognition and research on human information processing, and it includes various techniques. Some argue cognitive therapy’s efficacy lies in the treatments open-endedness, as the course of the therapy is catered to the individual.
One psychotherapy technique it emphasizes, called collaborative empiricism, involves challenging negative cognitive distortions, which is a procedure in which the therapist conjures up a hypothesis and then assists the patient in testing the validity of that hypothesis.
Rational-emotive therapy, another CBT technique developed by Albert Ellis, is used as a treatment for anxiety and depression, and was designed to challenge irrational beliefs about oneself and the world.
Perhaps the most crucial component of CBT treatment is something called the transference relationship. It is the way in which the patient behaves toward the therapist in which it is believed to reflect early primary relationships. This is used to increase patients ability to experience themselves and other people in a more realistic and integrated way.
Because CBT caters to those receiving treatment on an individual-level, the success of the transference relationship is so important because, essentially, the client and clinician are creating the treatment path together.
Since cognitive therapy can be applied to problems on such a broad spectrum, it’s arguably the most studied course of treatment. Evidence is strong for the efficacy of CBT, specifically in treating anxiety disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Like most, if not all, psychotherapy treatments, more extensive literature and research is necessary to gaining a stronger grasp on it’s efficacy, despite the enormous evidence base pointing to CBT’s success. However, CBT comes at a cost, a high one, and thus it has not been adopted as a first-line intervention for mental disorders for many countries, including many developed nations.