The History of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Originating in the early 1960s, cognitive behavioral therapy has come a long way since its birth. Originally orchestrated by Dr. Aaron T. Beck, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania, the therapeutic method has evolved over time to incorporate the best of many different therapeutic forms. When the method was first produced by Dr. Beck, it was simply a rational amalgam of behavioral therapies, cognitive theories on human behavior, and casual understandings for the way in which the human mind works and reacts to the world. Even in its earliest stages the therapeutic method outlined how to maintain different forces in psychopathology, and ways to target and intervene with adverse reactions to circumstances.
Before cognitive behavioral therapy was born, the therapeutic field was dominated by psychoanalysis theories and reflections. But, as CBT began to emerge, build and evolve off of other behavioral therapies and understandings, it quickly gained interest and its methodologies were expanded for the purpose of research. More than 40 years later now, cognitive behavioral therapy is a well-rounded, well-researched therapy plan that can be used in a variety of mental illness and substance use disorders treatments. From its very start, the field of study has recognized the importance of an individual’s thoughts and explored its theories to finally understand scientifically, that by helping clients understand their subconscious, they can help them recognize their negative thoughts, connotations, and behaviors, which in turn can help them more successfully target and treat these thought patterns to create healthier ways of thinking, living, and coping with one’s surroundings.
Even with all the research cognitive behavioral therapy has undergone and explored, its practitioners still work diligently to learn as much as they can about human thoughts, behavior, and new ways to help individuals overcome their adversities and setbacks. The therapy is unique, placing responsibility in the hands of the individual working through their current situation, to understand why and how their negative thoughts and patterns came to influence their lives and what they can do to stop letting such thought patterns rule their daily lives.
Common Techniques Used in CBT
Cognitive-behavioral therapy was born from a plethora of theories, understandings, and behavior therapies that came before it. Yet, as the therapeutic form grows older, it continues to learn and evolve to match the growing needs of the people around it. As more is understood about different mental illnesses and substance use disorders, more is also learned of CBT and the successes it can orchestrate in healing people.
There are many different types of mental health and substance use disorders, just as there are many different types of drug and alcohol rehab plans and opportunities. Similarly, there are many different techniques for healing and understanding thought patterns that can be utilized in a cognitive behavioral therapy session, including:
- Skill training: Learning specific methods of coping with difficult life situations and circumstances through social interaction, communication, and assertiveness.
- Role-playing: Learning how to deal with stressful situations by acting out events cause distress, and discussing the feelings, emotions, and thoughts that the individual experiences during the exercise.
- Mindfulness: Learning how to focus on the present moment, while gently accepting thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they come.
- Problem-solving: Learning how to work through daily life problems and situations in a constructive, healthy manner.
- Relaxation: Learning breathing, massage, meditation, and visualization techniques to help relax throughout the day and in stressful circumstances.
- Exposure therapy: Learning how to deal with stressful or fear-inducing situations or uncomfortable circumstances through the gradual, gentle exposure of such events in safe, controlled settings.
- Cognitive restructuring: Learning to work through the process of identifying negative thoughts and behavior and challenging those patterns on a daily basis.
- Homework: Learning to practice what has been learned in sessions through written or activity assignments that work to reinforce the lessons of each CBT work through.