Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on understanding and addressing a person's cognition and behaviour to reduce psychological symptoms and distress. The premise of CBT is that our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are tightly intertwined. Therefore, making changes in the ways we think can affect our subsequent behaviours. CBT emphasizes an individual's interpretation of events rather than examining the event itself because how people understand and make sense of something can vary significantly from person to person. The meaning individuals give to an event could be influenced by an individual's experiences of past beliefs or context, such as life roles and events.
Three aspects of cognition are often emphasized in CBT: automatic thoughts, cognitive distortions and underlying beliefs. Automatic thoughts are an individual's immediate interpretations of events, which can occasionally be exaggerated or unrealistic. Cognitive distortions are considered errors in judgement, which can lead people to incorrect conclusions. For example, an individual who experiences overgeneralizing may believe they will fail all future tests because they failed a single test in the past. Underlying beliefs shape the perception of events and are framed by life experiences.
CBT is a structured and goal-directed form of therapy. CBT has been extensively researched and can be useful for various conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and personality disorders. Occupational therapists may collaboratively work with clients and use CBT to understand how clients think, feel, and behave to bring about a beneficial change in their mood and promote participation in daily activities or occupations.
Chand SP, Kuckel DP, Huecker MR. Cognitive Behavior Therapy. [Updated 2020 Oct 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470241/