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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that primarily utilizes a goal-oriented approach. The way CBT works is that through therapy, an individual will learn to understand that the way they behave has a direct correlation with their personal attitudes and emotional problems. There are countless mental health clinicians all over Southern California that are trained in providing CBT. The idea behind CBT is to help people break unhealthy behavioral patterns by identifying and replacing dysfunctional patterns with positive thinking patterns. This, in turn, will affect one’s negative behaviors, as by replacing and adjusting negative self-views through behavior modification an individual will shift what was once negative actions into positive ones. By addressing and working on adjusting unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts and feelings that lead to repeated harmful behavior choices, a person can learn to replace the damaging thought processes with healthier behaviors and more positive emotions. Overtime, the goal is that through rewarding oneself for making healthier choices the negative internal dialogue will quiet and a more positive internal dialogue will become automatic.

CBT Background

In the 1960s, a psychiatrist, Aaron Beck, invented cognitive behavioral therapy. Through his studies, he came to realize that there was an undeniable and imperative link between an individual’s thoughts and feelings. He found that it was not uncommon for individuals to be unaware of the link between how their negative thoughts adversely affected their emotions. He learned that guiding an individual to name and identify the thoughts perpetuating negativity was helpful in an individual overcoming related difficulty. Initially Beck named this therapy cognitive therapy because of the integral importance that is placed on thinking, but later it was renamed as cognitive behavioral therapy. This is due to the fact that CBT relies equally on behavioral therapeutic techniques as it does cognitive. 

Other Options

Every individual is unique, and not all therapeutic modalities will resonate with each person. If you are unsure if CBT is right for you, perhaps consider trying dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT in the late 1980s as a means to better treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Evidence has since shown DBT to be a successful method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with a variety of other mental health disorders. DBT employs many of the same components of CBT, but places greater emphasis on the social and emotional aspects of treatment. DBT relies heavily on mindfulness skills originating from Zen and Buddhist practices. Dialectical behavior therapy consists of four primary behavioral skill modules, which include: core mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT includes individual therapy sessions, group DBT skills training sessions, and phone crisis coaching between sessions (if needed). Through DBT individuals learn to rely on specific mindfulness techniques that enable them to live with pain in the world and accept the way things are in any given moment instead of having to endure the suffering that comes from trying to change them. The fundamental difference between CBT and DBT is that CBT focuses on how thoughts, feelings, and behavior influence one another, while DBT places primary emphasis on teaching skills related to mindfulness practices, learning to accept pain, and emotional regulation.


The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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