The 8 Types of Cognitive Behavior Therapy

8 Types of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

The 8 Types of Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Rather than a specific type of therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is better understood as an umbrella term. Many of the approaches that fall under the CBT umbrella focus on understanding the interaction between thoughts, feelings, and events. The therapist works to help clients assess, recognize, and deal with problematic and dysfunctional ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.  8 Types of Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Generally speaking, CBT tends to be goal-oriented and short-term. However, the length of treatment depends on various factors, such as the severity of symptoms and consistency of practice between sessions. Depending on the specific type of CBT, different interventions may be used. 

The following evidence-based interventions fall under the CBT umbrella and have successfully treated numerous mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, alongside others.

Cognitive Therapy is one of the earliest therapies to be considered CBT. It focuses on identifying and changing unhelpful or distorted thinking patterns or views of the world, which is commonly experienced in individuals suffering from depressive symptoms. It utilizes collaborative elements like agenda-setting and homework assignments between sessions, but the emphasis lies on cognitive distortions-or thinking errors and maladaptive behaviors.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan and is heavily based on CBT with one exception: it highlights validating or accepting uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors instead of fighting them. Having someone come to terms with discomfort allows for change to seem feasible and attainable. Initially designed to treat individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), DBT is one of the most commonly utilized treatment interventions today. Anyone who frequently experiences extreme negative emotions and finds them unpredictable can benefit from it. 

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based approach that’s focused, directive, and goal-directed.MI recognizes that different people start therapy with diverse levels of willingness and commitment to change. It focuses on engaging and facilitating the internal motivation needed for any type of behavior change while resolving any existing ambivalence about making those changes. Although initially developed to help people overcome substance use problems, MI is now used to explore and enhance motivation for changing almost any behavior.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The central idea in the ACT is that people’s thoughts and feelings are affected by events, the people around them, and their environment. ACT focuses on increasing tolerance for emotional pain, mostly when avoiding pain prevents someone from living a fulfilling and meaningful life. ACT promotes alternative ways to cope and relate to emotional pain while clarifying a person’s values. Techniques from ACT could help someone get “unstuck” from those emotions so they can pursue more value-consistent actions. 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) involves identifying irrational beliefs, actively challenging these beliefs, and finally recognizing and changing these thought patterns. Albert Ellis created REBT based on the idea that each person holds a unique set of basic assumptions about ourselves and the world, which influences our actions and reactions and influences our perspective on situations. 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. MBSR utilizes the principles of mindfulness meditation to manage stress and related symptoms. Although it’s primarily used in treating anxiety-related disorders, chronic pain, even those who don’t have a diagnosis may find MBSR beneficial. as they can learn to manage stress much more effectively.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. MBCT is a relatively new form of CBT riding the crest of its third wave is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). The essential element of MBCT is mindfulness. The focus doesn’t lie on changing thoughts like in other forms of CBT, but rather the way a person reacts to these thoughts. Research suggests that those who live with a significant amount of stress, anxiety, or chronic pain can benefit from MBCT. The goal is to help people make healthy choices with each new day and improve life on a moment to moment basis.

 Exposure Therapy. Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral treatment most frequently used to treat OCD, PTSD, and phobias. Throughout treatment, a person and their therapist work together in identifying triggers of anxiety and learn relaxation techniques to learn how to manage anxiety-provoking situations. in a controlled, safe environment, the person would then confront those triggers to practice implementing relaxation techniques. While some can confront distressing memories at once-or flooding, others need to work up to them over time to avoid re-traumatization. In this case, a therapist will help someone ease into the process by leveraging relaxation techniques, typically starting with the more manageable memories. 

Getting Started With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

While each type of cognitive-behavioral therapy takes a different approach, all work to address the underlying thought patterns that contribute to psychological distress. Treatment progress is dependent on each individual’s unique circumstances and needs. You and your therapist will actively check-in to ensure that progress is being maintained and that your treatment goals, values, and hopes are being accomplished. At Washington Psychological Wellness, we also actively work with and consult with outside providers, teachers, clergy, family members, etc., to coordinate care. If you’d like to learn more about CBT and how it can help you, contact us today.