Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach that helps people to recognize how their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions affect their mental state and decision-making. As indicated by the name, CBT is a behavioral therapy that is used for a wide variety of psychological and/or mood disorders, including depression, eating disorders, OCD, and severe mental illness and is most widely known for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety. It is widely practiced and one of the most common therapeutic approaches used by counselors and mental health professionals.
A Quick History of CBT
Though CBT has roots in the behavior therapy of the early twentieth century with influence from such figures as Ivan Pavlov, Joseph Wolpe, and B.F. Skinner, the practice became streamlined by Aaron T. Beck, who is considered the father of cognitive therapy. When Beck began integrating free associative thinking in his sessions, he realized that his clients’ thoughts were affected more by emotional stressors than by the unconscious factors that Freud had previously attributed them to. Beck discovered that there was an internal dialogue occurring between his clients’ thoughts and emotions that resulted in certain behaviors, or what he characterized as “automatic thinking”.