Things You Thought You Didn’t Know about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT is a form of talk therapy that seeks to uproot and dissolve psychosocial ailments. A CBT therapist will lead a patient through their thoughts, beliefs and experiences to come up with strategies for re-contextualizing and treating specific problems related to a diagnosed mental illness. It is unlike psychoanalysis, as you can learn about at because the therapist is not interested in looking at underlying subconscious motives, but rather focuses on the patient’s responses for why they think and act the way they do. Instead of playing an authoritative role, a therapist works with them to think and talk through their issues while leading them to spell out their own solutions.

Ancient Origins

The inspiration for CBT actually traces its origins to thousands of years before psychoanalysis to the Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus. He believed that at the self-knowledge was a precursor to all of philosophy, and was the first on record to suggest that unhealthy beliefs were to at the root of emotional disorders, and could be broken down and dismantled with logical discourse. I would argue that this practice is very purely deconstructionist whereas psychoanalysis aims to deconstruct a patient by suggesting to them motives or attributes that are esoteric constructions in comparison to the subjective feedback a patient can give for themself. Whatever can be explained can also be dialed back by further questioning to reveal what personal reasoning lies behind a one’s motives; i.e. “I act that way because I feel like this around people, because I believe that about my reality, and this came about for these reasons.” These conversations are the source material for all of CBT, which is so effective because of how it empowers the patient to define their own influences.

Albert Ellis & Aaron T. Beck

Modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was a long but brilliant development. Behavioral therapy, along with all of its zany experiments, was first practiced in the early 1900s and then cognitive therapy in the 1960s. Predating the merging of the two was “Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy” (REBT) developed by Albert Ellis in the 50s and, as you’ll find here, more closely resembled the work of Epictetus. At the same time a man named Aaron T. Beck posed the argument that thoughts, unlike Freud had believed, had to do more with the conscious, engaged mind rather than some unconscious esoteric self. Beck would then go onto invent cognitive therapy. It wasn’t until the 1980s where both cognitive and behavioral techniques were merged into the same practice. Today, CBT is still being used to help patients understand themselves on a basis of both thinking and doing.


Who Needs Psychotherapy?

CBT is most commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, but it also offers a skill set that can be used to work through phobias, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and even relationship disputes. If you are someone with social anxiety, low self-esteem, trouble setting goals or connecting to a feeling of purpose in your life, then you may benefit greatly from this kind of therapy. Even physical issues and our unrest over them can be addressed in CBT, from chronic pain to long-term illness. Relieving mental tension and anguish through challenging mental and thinking habits can either relieve pain directly or help one to accept their pain and manage it with a solutions oriented focus.

A Different Sort Of Medicine

Many people would argue that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often a replacement or alternative to taking medication. A CBT therapist cannot prescribe medication themself but rather offers a different sort of medicine. If you are brave enough to be vulnerable with yourself and with them, then you have the opportunity to shed light on places within your subconscious framework just through recounting your experiences. Not only does an intimate look at one’s processes help them to accept their situation, it offers a chance for patients to distance themselves from what they have thought and experienced for long enough to be objective and even critical with themselves. This is the power of cognitive therapy. All a person may need is the space to express themselves before they realize that those mental blockages they had before were not just unfair; they weren’t even from their truest self. 

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