ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What are Cognitive Behavioral Therapies - How do They Work?

Updated on November 20, 2016
janderson99 profile image

Dr. John uses skills in Biochemistry, Physiology (PhD) to review topics on mental health, depression, sleep, stress, setting positive goals

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques are based on the concept that people are not necessarily the victims of what happens to them, and their circumstances, but they are reliant on how they respond to things that happen.

Events and situations happen to us all the time that trigger thoughts, feelings, actions and responses. But the way we respond and react is very much dependent on us, our mental state, how good or bad we feel about ourselves.

The point is that we don't necessarily have to be the victim of what happens to us and the pressures that are applied.

Learn to control your negative thought
Learn to control your negative thought | Source
Being more Positive can be Learned
Being more Positive can be Learned | Source
Negative thoughts and emotions swirl all around us
Negative thoughts and emotions swirl all around us | Source

One Example of the Problem of Negative Thoughts

Take the example of someone who walks past you without saying hello or even acknowledging you. There are many possible reasons for this:

  • Perhaps they did not see you
  • Perhaps they were deep in thought and did not want to be interrupted
  • Perhaps they are not very friendly and seldom respond in this way
  • Perhaps they hate you, don’t respect you, or are deliberately ignoring you

So that same event and your understanding of what happened and why has been colored by your interpretation and the way you fill in the gaps for hidden reasons that may be fictitious

Your response to all of these may be the same – you feel hurt and rejected. But this may be unreasonable and irrational because you have jumped to the wrong conclusions and chosen the worst possible outcome in terms of the way you feel. Why have you reacted in this way? It does not have to be this way. You are dealing with a set of unknowns. What if you put a positive spin on things and stopped having negative thoughts.

This is the essence of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is about changing the way you think, if you tend to be negative.

General Thinking Styles and Reactions that are Addressed by Cognitive Behavioral Therapies

There are a set of classic negative errors thinking style that can affect your mood and self respect:

  • Reason driven by emotions – When I feel guilty, there must be something to be guilty about.
  • Wrongly leaping to conclusions – If I go out I will only feel worse.
  • Anything less than perfect is useless – I know I can’t do the thing perfectly, so why bother.
  • Blinkered focus on failures – My vision forward is so clouded by my past Failures and shortcomings that my successes remain shrouded
  • Negative Outlook triggered by generalisations – Nothing ever goes to plan in my life, which is full of disappointments – My average is poor.
  • Negative Label - I'm such a loser

How Can Negative Thinking Habits be Broken by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is designed to help people break out of the set-backs caused by emotional reasoning. Essentially this means replacing true facts and missing facts and reasons with ‘how you feel’. It teaches people how to try to replace negative thinking styles with more positive and more realistic ones.

Many psychologists believe that these thinking pattern are a habit caused by negative reinforcement.

For example, some people are afraid of spiders. They do everything they can to avoid them. This reduces the risk but increases the fear and does not deal with the problem. Graded exposure has been shown to be very successful with helping people to cope with phobias, rather than reinforcing them. Gradually exposing people to spiders can be very successful in retraining people’s fear of spiders so that they realise that the fear is unfounded. People can retrain their emotions and negative feelings so that they are less fearful of spiders and can live ‘normal lives’.

Various research studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapies are at least as effective as medication, but avoid the side effects and dependencies. However they don’t suit everyone.

References for Advice:

Advice on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Australia

Advice on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, USA

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)