CBT is based on the theory that the way individuals perceive a situation is more closely connected to their reaction than the situation itself. Individuals’ perceptions are often distorted and unhelpful, particularly when they are distressed. Cognitive Behavior Therapy helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral changes.

About Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a time-sensitive, structured, present-oriented psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in more than 2,000 studies for the treatment of many different health and mental health conditions. When implemented correctly, CBT helps individuals get better and stay better.  

Cognitive Model

The cognitive model describes how people’s thoughts and perceptions influence the way they feel and behave. The cognitive model is at the core of CBT, and it plays a critical role in helping therapists conceptualize and treat their clients’ difficulties. 

The Cognitive Model

Principles of Treatment

CBT therapists use an individual formulation to guide treatment for each client. This formulation is essential to developing a sound therapeutic relationship, setting goals, planning treatment, and selecting interventions.

Fourteen tenets of good CBT: 
  1. CBT treatment plans are based on an ever-evolving cognitive conceptualization. 
  2. CBT requires a sound therapeutic relationship. 
  3. CBT continually monitors client progress. 
  4. CBT is culturally adapted and tailors treatment to the individual. 
  5. CBT emphasizes the positive. 
  6. CBT stresses collaboration and active participation. 
  7. CBT is aspirational, values based, and goal oriented. 
  8. CBT initially emphasizes the present. 
  9. CBT is educative. 
  10. CBT is time sensitive. 
  11. CBT sessions are structured. 
  12. CBT uses guided discovery and teaches clients to respond to their dysfunctional cognitions.
  13. CBT includes action plans (therapy homework).
  14. CBT uses a variety of techniques to change thinking, mood, and behavior.

© 2018. Adapted from J. Beck (2020) Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond, 3rd edition

CBT Assessment Tools

There are a variety of helpful CBT tools to help mental health practitioners in their work with patients, including the Beck Depression Scale, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, the Personality Belief Questionnaire, and more.


People often ask, ‘Does CBT work?’ The answer is clear: yes. More than 2,000 studies have demonstrated the efficacy of CBT for psychiatric disorders, psychological problems and medical problems with a psychiatric component.

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