Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – CBT – originates with the work of Aaron Beck in the USA.
CBT focuses on what a person believes and how they think about things and the behaviours they choose as a result of their thinking and beliefs. For example, a negative belief may lead a person to solve problems and make decisions in ways that are negatively skewed – the famous ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’, or self defeating decisions, which in turn can result in repeated negative outcomes and depression.
Seeing these patterns clearly can allow therapist and client to orchestrate ‘experiments’ with new ways of thinking and behaving, which in turn can generate new outcomes and help to revise outworn negative beliefs. Often behaviour therapy is used to overcome fears such as phobias (for example agoraphobia – the fear of being out of doors or arachnophobia – a fear of spiders) as well as difficulties such as panic attacks. The emphasis is on changing the outcomes rather than generating a detailed understanding of the causes.