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Cognitive-behavioral therapy, commonly known as CBT, is psychotherapy dealing with behavior and thoughts. It involves working with a psychotherapist by attending several classes as structured. Through CBT, you become aware of negative or inaccurate thoughts to help see challenges clearly and react more effectively to stimuli.

Whether CBT alone or combining it with other therapies, it can be meaningful in mitigating mental health illnesses, including depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, it doesn’t suggest that all people undergoing CBT are suffering from mental health problems. Anybody going through a stressful life situation can opt for CBT as an effective mitigation strategy. Let's read on to see what you should know about CBT for beginners.

Reasons for CBT

CBT is useful in treating numerous issues in life. Usually, it's the most preferred psychotherapy type since it possibly helps pinpoint and cope with particular problems. It also takes a shorter time than other therapy kinds. It's structured in a specific way through the fewer sessions. CBT addresses emotional troubles, including helping in the following situations;

  • Determine techniques for emotional management
  • Managing symptoms relating to mental sickness
  • Treat mental disorders when education isn’t working
  • Equip with methods that can cope with stressful life situations
  • Overcome traumatic emotions associated with violence and abuse
  • Coping with loss and grief
  • Cope with medical conditions
  • Find solutions to issues in relationships and learn better ways to communicate
  • Mitigate chronic physical symptoms

Generally, CBT has few risks. For instance, you might get emotional discomfort sometimes. It's due to the things CBT takes you through, for example, having to explore painful experiences, emotions, and feelings. Some sessions may cause you to cry, feel angry, or get upset. Even getting physically drained is possible. In instances such as exposure therapy, you might go through circumstances you'd rather shun. Suppose you fear flying but are forced to board an airplane, be sure it can lead to temporary anxiety and stress. Nevertheless, getting a skilled professional through your sessions can help minimize the risks. Mastering some skills through the therapy can help conquer the negativity and soldier on.


Do you know how to get started in cognitive behavioral therapy? Well, you might decide by yourself, or a doctor cum concerned person can recommend. Here is how to go;

  • Get a specialist- A doctor, friend, or health insurance plan can refer a therapist to you. If employed, some employers provide therapy services through employee assistance programs. You can also find your therapists, such as from a state or local psychological organization. The internet can also be handy in providing a professional.
  • Know the expenses- Suppose you’ve got an insurance card, get to understand its coverage on psychotherapy treatment. You'll find some health insurance plans only covering a few sessions, whereas others may stand for everything. Consulting your therapist about the fees and expenses can give a clue about the payment choices available.
  • Countercheck to understand your concerns- Start by thinking of all issues you'd wish to sort before attending your first appointment with a specialist. Despite the surety that your therapist will help sort your issues, familiarizing yourself in advance can be a great starting point.

Checking qualifications

The term psychotherapist is a general title. It could indicate a person's education level, certification, or licensing. Psychotherapists could include licensed professional counselors, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, licensed social workers, and psychiatrists. Check the following qualifications for a psychotherapist;

  • Background and education- Depending on their education level and role, a trained psychotherapist may have various job titles. Mostly, you'll find them with a master's or doctorate degree in psychology counseling. Psychiatrists- medical doctors specialized in mental health, can handle psychotherapy, and also prescribe drugs.
  • Experience- Find out if your therapist has experience in handling your symptoms or concerns. For example, have they ever treated PTSD or eating disorders?
  • Certification or licensing-Does the therapist meet state certification for the area they’re in.

CBT steps

  • Point out your troubling life situations- They’re troubles, such as anger, grief, medical conditions, divorce, and mental illnesses. You may spend time with your therapists to identify your challenges and goals to give focus.
  • Knowing your emotions, thoughts, and beliefs about challenges- After bringing out your problems, with the help of your therapist, you'll share your mind about the issues. It could include self-talk, your imagination about the problem, situation interpretation, beliefs about who you are, and other events and people.
  • Determine inaccurate and negative thoughts-You’ll be encouraged to focus on your emotional, physical, and behavioral reactions to stimuli through which you can realize the thinking patterns and behavior likely to contribute to your current situation.
  • Resolve the negative mind or incorrect thinking- A therapist will help question yourself to tell if your situation view is based on inaccurate perception or fact. It may be a difficult step, but you notice something about your thoughts on life and yourself. As time goes by and with more practice, behavior patterns and helpful thinking will become habitual, hence little effort is needed.

Confidentiality and therapy duration-

Unless it’s a special circumstance, your talks with the therapist are confidential. But, this can be broken in cases where safety is threatened or when needed by the federal or state government, for example,

  • Threats to take someone’s life
  • Inability to care for oneself
  • Threats to take harm yourself or commit suicide
  • Child abuse or harming a vulnerable adult

As mentioned earlier, CBT sessions are shorter. Both of you can decide the duration by considering factors, such as;

  • Situation type
  • The duration you’ve had the symptoms
  • How fast you’ll progress
  • The amount of stress you have
  • The amount of support from your family or friends
  • The severity of your symptoms

The bottom line

CBT has no certainty that it'll cure your condition or get away from your unpleasant state. However, you can get the courage to cope with your troubles in a wonderful way, hence a better feeling about yourself and life generally. You only need to be positive by honestly opening up, sticking to your treatment plan as structured, and not expecting instant results for you to get the most out of the therapy.