Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a model of psychotherapy that originated in the United States and has developed over several decades. Firstly, CBT depends upon a belief that psychological suffering and dysfunctionality can be alleviated by purely psychological intervention. Secondly, the medium used to understand and address the suffering is language.
CBT involves interactive sessions during which the therapist detects the so-called cognitive distortions or unhelpful thoughts, the beliefs that the individual displays on a conscious and unconscious level, as well as the associated behaviors. For example, people who are known as “perfectionist” are constantly judging themselves and typically have unhelpful thoughts such as “I am dumb!”, which they will try to compensate with behaviors that avoid failures at all cost. These cognitive distortions or unhelpful thoughts are very deep beliefs that patients struggle to change on an emotional level even if they make them suffer.
The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is to relieve the individual by helping them identify and understand their unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and bring them more in tune with their environment. How? One of the means used by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the so-called “action tasks”, whereby the psychotherapist proposes to the individual to perform a task that challenges their schemas. For example, such a task might entail asking the perfectionist to produce a document that would include a typo.
This “action task” generally takes place outside of the individual’s comfort zone: it is therefore expected that they will worry and resist performing it. But the trained psychotherapist will usually choose tasks that are feasible, and the interpretation of resistance is part of the therapeutic process.
We try to prescribe “action tasks” that will foster lasting changes in people’s daily lives by taking into account their resources and potentialities.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) also uses the cognitive restructuring which aims to challenge certain patterns of thinking in the here-and-now.