June 21, 2024

F1000 Scientist

Health to Life

Important Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

3 min read

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a method of psychotherapy that aims to help us face problems and challenges so it would not interfere with goals we have set for ourselves. It does so by correcting a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and behavior. This is not a long term therapy but can produce immediate changes. CBT treatment sessions can last for about five to ten months, with a session every week and homework to be done after sessions.

CBT is also a very hands-on therapy. It works well when the patient and the therapist are both working together. They will come together to talk about the problems of the patient, define strategies,  and come up with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help find solutions.

Helpful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques and Tools

The techniques and tools used in cognitive behavioral therapy can be used not only during therapy sessions but is also applicable for everyday activities. There are many techniques and tools available but the ones to be employed will depend on the issues you are dealing with. Approaches will depend on a process including:

  • identification of problems and challenges in daily living
  • becoming more aware of thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how these can affect daily life
  • identifying unhealthy thinking and changing it to affect your emotional state for the better
  • learning new behaviors and applying them every day

We have listed some of the most common and effective techniques and tools used during cognitive behavioral therapy.


Writing is a common technique used for CBT that helps a person to be more aware of their thoughts. It helps a patient to track their moods and thoughts and identify patterns. A CBT journal would include the time or schedule or the mood or thought. Next, the source of the mood or thought, how intense, and how long it persisted. There could also be a tracker for the reactions to the mood or thought.

Unraveling cognitive distortions

To do this technique, they should be aware of what the distortions are and what kinds you suffer from. Part of this can help recognize and challenge automatic thoughts. This technique would be a primary goal during CBT and can be done in the presence or even without a therapist.

Cognitive restructuring

After knowing which distortions are present in the patient, further exploration can be made. It can lead to figuring out why you developed it in the first place. This can help you address it better. One example can be the belief that being respected comes from what job you have. If you are unable to secure that position, you can start questioning yourself. What you can do is to challenge what can really make a person respectable and change your view about yourself.

Exposure and response prevention

This technique includes exposing yourself to what triggers a certain behavior and practicing self control. It can be paired with journaling so you can track your response to the trigger. This works best for those who suffer from OCD.

Interoceptive exposure

Panic and anxiety is a common problem for many people. This technique also employs exposure, in order to face the fear and create a better response. Once the bodily sensations have been deconstructed it can be associated with better feelings. Although the symptoms of anxiety are not pleasant, the patient will see that it is not life-threatening.

Nightmare exposure and rescripting

This is made for those who are experiencing nightmares. It involves recalling and revisiting the nightmare to try and bring up the emotion. Once the emotion comes, the patient and the therapist work together to create a better response or emotion once the nightmares come again.

Imagining the situation

Imagining the worst case scenario of the feared scenario can help correct thought and response. This can also help people who have panic and anxiety. It would take several tries but once successful, the patient can help understand that the fear is manageable.

Going through cognitive behavioral therapy would need to be willing to trust the process, thinking that the techniques would impede the progress of change. Having an open mind can help have a better chance of succeeding with the therapy. Working with a therapist would need being willing to commit to the techniques and goals set.

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