What Is CBT and How Does It Work?

A Simple Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Its Benefits

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps you identify and change the negative or irrational thoughts that affect your emotions and behavior.

It’s based on the idea that your thoughts and perceptions influence how you feel and act, not the situations themselves.

For example, imagine that you have a fear of public speaking. You might think something like:

I’m going to mess up and everyone will laugh at me.

This thought will make you feel anxious, nervous, and embarrassed.

As a result, you might avoid public speaking opportunities, or perform poorly when you have to do it.

But what if you could challenge and change this thought?

What if you could think something more realistic and positive, like:

I’m well-prepared and I have something valuable to say.

This thought will make you feel more confident, calm, and motivated.

As a result, you might seek out public speaking opportunities, or perform better when you have to do it.

This is what CBT helps you do.

It teaches you how to recognize the distorted or unhelpful thoughts that trigger your negative emotions and behavior, and how to replace them with more accurate and constructive thoughts.

But CBT is not just about changing your thoughts. It’s also about changing your behavior.

CBT helps you learn and practice new skills and strategies to cope with the situations that cause you distress.

For example, if you have a fear of public speaking, CBT might help you:

  • Learn relaxation techniques to calm your nerves
  • Prepare and rehearse your speech in advance
  • Use positive self-talk and affirmations to boost your confidence
  • Seek feedback and learn from your mistakes
  • Expose yourself gradually to more challenging speaking situations
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By changing both your thoughts and your behavior, CBT can help you improve your mental and physical well-being, and achieve your goals.

What Are the Benefits of CBT?

CBT is one of the most widely used and researched forms of psychotherapy.

It has been proven to be effective for a variety of mental and physical health problems, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression and bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder
  • Substance use disorders, such as alcoholism and drug addiction
  • Personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder
  • Chronic pain and illness, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and diabetes
  • Insomnia and other sleep problems
  • Anger management and stress management
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Relationship problems and communication skills

CBT has many advantages over other forms of psychotherapy, such as:

  • It’s short-term and goal-oriented. CBT typically lasts between 6 to 20 sessions, depending on the problem and the individual. It focuses on solving the current issues and achieving specific and measurable outcomes.
  • It’s collaborative and empowering. CBT involves working together with the therapist as a team, rather than being passive or dependent. It helps you develop the skills and tools to become your own therapist and cope with future challenges.
  • It’s evidence-based and structured. CBT is based on scientific research and clinical practice, rather than personal opinions or beliefs. It follows a clear and logical framework, rather than being vague or random.
  • It’s flexible and adaptable. CBT can be tailored to suit the needs and preferences of each individual, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach. It can also be delivered in different formats, such as individual, group, online, or phone.
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How Can You Get Started with CBT?

If you’re interested in trying CBT, there are several ways to get started. Here are some options:

  • Find a qualified CBT therapist. The best way to get CBT is to work with a licensed and experienced therapist who specializes in CBT. You can ask your doctor for a referral, or search online for a CBT therapist near you. Make sure to check their credentials, reviews, and fees before you book an appointment.
  • Take a CBT course or program. Another way to get CBT is to enroll in a CBT course or program, either online or in person. These courses or programs are usually led by a CBT therapist or coach, and involve learning the principles and techniques of CBT, and applying them to your own situation. You can find CBT courses or programs on various topics, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, or stress.
  • Use a CBT app or book. A third way to get CBT is to use a CBT app or book, either as a supplement or as a self-help option. These apps or books are usually based on CBT principles and techniques, and guide you through the process of changing your thoughts and behavior. You can find CBT apps or books on various platforms, such as Google Play, Apple Store, Amazon, or Audible.

Whatever option you choose, remember that CBT is not a quick fix or a magic bullet.

It requires your active participation, commitment, and practice. It may also involve facing some uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, or situations.

But if you stick with it, you will likely see positive changes in your life.

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CBT is a form of psychotherapy that can help you change the way you think and behave.

It can be useful for many mental and physical health problems, such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and chronic pain. It has many benefits, such as being short-term, collaborative, evidence-based, and flexible.

It can be accessed in different ways, such as working with a therapist, taking a course, or using an app or book.

I hope you enjoyed reading it and learned something new. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.


  • What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)? –
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy –
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Psychology Today Staff –
  • Overview – Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) –
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: What Is It and How Does It Work? –

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