In the world of therapy, professionals use different approaches and theories. The methods they use during treatment are based on these theories.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of these approaches. It involves talk therapy, where the client has private sessions and discusses their challenges with a professional. The therapist will use activities and exercises based on cognitive behavioral theory to help the client overcome their challenges.

The theory was developed by Aaron Beck and is used by professionals, including Dr. Phil.

Main principles of cognitive behavioral theory

Cognitive behavioral theory is based on the idea that if you can change your thinking, you can change your behaviors. Here are the three main principles of the theory.

Core beliefs

There are certain fundamental beliefs we have about ourselves. These stem from childhood experiences and impact our view of ourselves, the world, and the future.

Negative assumptions

People have thoughts based on negative assumptions. Thoughts such as “I’ll never get that raise.” Or “I don’t have what it takes to accomplish my goals.” These negative thoughts are not based on reality but rather a negative attitude.

Automatic negative thoughts

Some negative thoughts become automatic, like habits. Unfortunately, it makes them difficult to recognize because they have become a part of our day-to-day operations.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to help clients overcome these negative thoughts and, by doing so, change their behavior. When behaviors change, the client will be able to change their circumstances.

Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques

Therapists that use cognitive behavioral therapy as their approach will use activities and exercises that help the client overcome negative thoughts. The goal is to help the client understand the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

With cognitive behavioral therapy, you’ll be able to recognize negative thoughts, become better at problem-solving, gain confidence, develop plans and strategies to help you face fears or overcome challenges, and find out how to stay calm when dealing with difficult circumstances.

Some of the techniques that therapists use to accomplish these goals include:

Set SMART goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive. Using these criteria to develop goals will help you see the steps you need to take to get what you want.

Guided discovery

A therapist can ask questions and guide clients to understand different viewpoints and perspectives. Doing this teaches the client to challenge their assumptions. It can help them break free of negative thought patterns.


Clients may be encouraged to journal their thoughts during the week. Having these thoughts written down helps clients to be more objective. Clients will also be asked to counter negative thoughts by positive journaling ones alongside negative thoughts.

Positive activities

Planning a positive activity for every day can help boost your mood. What you decide to do depends on you and what you enjoy. It is based on the idea of taking care of yourself. For example, if you like flowers, buy a bunch on your way home.


Thoughts, which can be negative or positive, run through our heads each day. Cognitive behavioral therapy will help you examine the tone of your thoughts and challenge the negative ones. The goal is to change your self-talk to be less critical.

Types of cognitive behavior therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy has different subtypes that are used in treatment. You and your therapist can decide which approach will be best for you. Here are some of the types of cognitive behavioral therapy:

Exposure therapy

In exposure therapy, the client is slowly introduced to situations that cause stress for a limited time. The goal is to build up resistance. It’s best suited to those looking to overcome phobias or fears.

Dialectical behavior therapy

Another approach is to focus on regulating emotions through exercises like mindfulness. This type of therapy can be done with individuals and in group situations. It’s a good fit if you want to overcome depression or an eating disorder.

Acceptance and commitment therapy

In this form of cognitive behavioral therapy, a client learns to be comfortable with negative thoughts. So, rather than fight them, the individual learns to examine them and not run away from dealing with these thoughts.

Rational emotive behavior therapy

With rational emotive behavior therapy, the therapist and client will focus on identifying negative thought patterns. They will then examine how these thought patterns impact the emotional life and behavior of the client. This method can be used with various conditions, from anxiety to addiction.

Benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy holds many benefits for individuals, such as:

Short duration

One of the key benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy is that the duration of treatment can be short. Depending on the issues you face and want to overcome, you will only need five to 20 sessions.


As it does not require years and years of therapy for you to see results, it is not as expensive as other types of treatments. You can save extra money if you opt to take group sessions.

Skill development

Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches clients skills that can be used in everyday situations. It can help you overcome your challenges and give you tools to use in the future.

Medication optional

Therapy using the cognitive behavioral approach can be effective with or without medications. Taking prescriptions during therapy can sometimes help you manage better, but you will still be able to see results if you do not opt to take medications.

Why trust The Insight Clinic

At The Insight Clinic, we put your needs first. Our mental health professionals offer a variety of treatments to help clients avoid medicating the problem. Our team is skilled at using cognitive behavioral therapy methods that can help you overcome fear, anxiety, worry, depression, and other challenges. We have worked with clients to overcome many different conditions.

Contact us today and start your healing journey.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy picture

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic