Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

A short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that helps individuals identify and change dysfunctional thought patterns and behaviors.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping individuals identify and change negative or distorted thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to emotional distress. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and by changing one aspect, we can influence the others. The therapy involves working with a mental health professional to develop coping strategies and problem-solving skills to manage challenging situations more effectively.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has its roots in the 1960s, when psychiatrist Aaron Beck developed the cognitive model of emotional disorders. Beck observed that his patients often experienced distorted, negative thoughts that influenced their emotions and behaviors. Around the same time, Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), which also emphasized the role of thoughts in shaping emotions and behaviors. CBT emerged as a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy, gaining widespread recognition in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, CBT has been extensively researched and adapted to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, becoming one of the most widely practiced and empirically supported forms of psychotherapy.


  1. Effective for Various Mental Health Conditions CBT has been shown to be effective in treating depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, substance abuse, eating disorders, and other mental health issues.
  2. Short-Term Treatment CBT is typically a short-term treatment, with many individuals experiencing significant improvement within 12-20 sessions.
  3. Goal-Oriented CBT is focused on specific, achievable goals, helping individuals develop practical skills to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
  4. Empowering CBT teaches individuals to be their own therapists by equipping them with tools and strategies to challenge negative thoughts and change problematic behaviors.
  5. Evidence-Based CBT is backed by extensive research, demonstrating its effectiveness in treating a wide range of mental health conditions.
  6. Improves Emotional Regulation CBT helps individuals better understand and manage their emotions, leading to increased emotional stability and resilience.
  7. Enhances Problem-Solving Skills CBT teaches practical problem-solving skills that can be applied to various life challenges, improving an individual's ability to cope with stress and adversity.

How It Works

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a structured, short-term therapy that focuses on the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. CBT helps individuals identify and challenge negative or distorted thought patterns and replace them with more balanced, realistic ones. Through various techniques such as cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and behavioral activation, CBT aims to modify maladaptive behaviors and develop coping strategies. By actively participating in sessions and completing homework assignments, clients learn to manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.


While CBT is generally considered an effective treatment for various mental health concerns, it may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with severe mental illnesses or those in acute crisis may require more intensive interventions. CBT also requires active participation and commitment from the client, which can be challenging for some. The structured nature of CBT may not appeal to those who prefer a more open-ended, exploratory approach to therapy. Additionally, finding a qualified and experienced CBT therapist who is a good fit for the individual's needs and preferences is crucial for optimal outcomes.

How Much It Costs

The cost of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can vary depending on factors such as location, therapist's experience, and insurance coverage. On average, a single CBT session can range from $100 to $200 without insurance. Some therapists may offer sliding scale fees based on income. Many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover CBT sessions, although copays and deductibles may apply. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and community mental health centers may provide low-cost or free CBT services. Overall, the cost of CBT can range from free to over $200 per session.

Virtual & Online Options

Virtual or online CBT has gained popularity in recent years, offering several advantages over traditional in-person therapy. Online CBT allows for greater accessibility, as individuals can access therapy from the comfort of their own homes, eliminating the need for travel and reducing scheduling conflicts. It may also be more affordable, as some online platforms offer lower rates than in-person sessions. However, in-person CBT may be preferred by those who value face-to-face interaction and a more personal therapeutic relationship. In-person sessions may also be more suitable for individuals with severe symptoms or those who require a higher level of support and monitoring.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) practitioners typically hold advanced degrees in mental health fields such as psychology, social work, or counseling. Licensed professionals who provide CBT include psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D.), licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), licensed professional counselors (LPC), and licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT). Additionally, some practitioners may obtain specialized certifications in CBT, such as the Diplomate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (DCBT) offered by the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists (NACBT) or the Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CCBT) credential provided by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Complementary Practices

Some practices that complement Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) include mindfulness meditation, yoga, journaling, exercise, and stress management techniques. These practices can help enhance the effects of CBT by promoting relaxation, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. Incorporating these complementary methods alongside CBT can lead to a more comprehensive and effective treatment approach for mental health concerns.

Practitioner Types

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is typically provided by licensed mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed professional counselors (LPCs), licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), and marriage and family therapists (MFTs). These practitioners have received specialized training in CBT and are qualified to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health conditions using this evidence-based approach.

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  • Q: What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

    • A: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors to improve mental health. CBT helps individuals identify and challenge distorted thinking patterns and develop coping strategies to manage their emotions and behaviors more effectively.
  • Q: What conditions can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treat?

    • A: CBT is an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, substance abuse, and sleep disorders. It can also help individuals cope with chronic pain, relationship problems, and stress-related issues.
  • Q: How long does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) typically last?

    • A: CBT is usually a short-term treatment, with most people experiencing significant improvement within 12 to 20 sessions. However, the length of treatment can vary depending on the severity of the condition, the individual's progress, and their specific goals. Some people may require more or fewer sessions to achieve their desired outcomes.
  • Q: What can I expect during a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) session?

    • A: During a CBT session, you will work with your therapist to identify negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to your mental health concerns. Your therapist will guide you through exercises and techniques to challenge and reframe these thoughts, as well as develop coping strategies to manage your emotions and behaviors. You may also be given homework assignments to practice these skills between sessions.
  • Q: Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) effective?

    • A: Yes, CBT is one of the most well-researched and evidence-based forms of psychotherapy. Numerous studies have shown that CBT is effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, with many people experiencing significant improvements in their symptoms and overall quality of life. CBT has been found to be as effective as, or even more effective than, medication for certain conditions, such as depression and anxiety disorders.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a highly effective and evidence-based treatment approach for a wide range of mental health concerns. By focusing on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, CBT helps individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and develop coping strategies to manage their mental health. When combined with complementary practices such as mindfulness, yoga, and journaling, CBT can provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to mental well-being. With the guidance of trained mental health professionals, individuals can work towards achieving their treatment goals and improving their overall quality of life. As one of the most well-researched and widely practiced forms of psychotherapy, CBT continues to be a valuable tool in the field of mental health treatment.