Cognitive therapy views emotional problems as influenced by negative or extreme thought patterns. These patterns have frequently become so habitual that they are experienced as automatic and go unnoticed by the individual.
While in treatment, clients are taught how to uncover these negative patterns and replace them with more productive or adaptive ways to view life events. Through this process, clients learn self-help techniques that can produce rapid symptom shifts, solve current life problems, and improve self-esteem. This may include activity scheduling, self-monitoring, role-play, gradual exposure to difficult situations, relaxation techniques, and social skills training. This is the “behavioral” part of the therapy.
Cognitive therapy also addresses self-defeating behavior patterns such as problems with assertive communication or intimacy.
The effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies for the treatment of depression, most types of anxiety disorders, and an extensive list of other disorders, is now well supported by a large body of research.