Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based, action-oriented psychological treatment that focuses on the way people think (cognitive) and act (behavioral).

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most practiced and well-researched theories for the treatment of mental health conditions. It is based on the idea that our cognitions (thoughts), emotions, and behaviors are directly connected. How we think about something affects the way we feel inside, and that in turn, influences what we do or don’t do in response to those feelings. Many people, especially individuals who have depression or anxiety, struggle with automatic negative thoughts. These thoughts are often about themselves, and not only do they make them feel bad, but they also are not true or accurate.

Fortunately, another key concept in CBT is that thinking and behavioral patterns can change. A clinician trained in CBT works closely with patients to help them identify their automatic negative thoughts and evaluate the validity and usefulness of them. By learning how to recognize, challenge, and dispute negative thinking patterns, patients often feel better more quickly than with some of the other psychotherapy models.

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Why Choose Amen Clinics for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

The psychiatrists and psychotherapists at Amen Clinics have successfully been using cognitive behavioral therapy to help thousands of patients for more than 30 years. In fact, in the 1990s, Dr. Daniel Amen coined the term “ANTs” (automatic negative thoughts) after his workday had been filled with difficult patients and he returned home only to discover an infestation of ants. As he was cleaning them up it occurred to him that, just like the mess in his kitchen, his patients’ brains were infested with ANTs that were robbing them of joy and making them feel miserable. His powerful strategy to identify and challenge automatic negative thoughts—or “Kill the ANTs”—was born that day and has been helping people manage their minds and improve their lives ever since.

What are the Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Whenever you have a sad, painful, mean, irritable, hopeless, or hateful thought, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel bad. And the way you think and feel about something or someone, including yourself, often affects what you do in response. For example, if you wave to a friend who is driving by, but that person doesn’t wave back, you might automatically conclude that they are mad at you. You immediately plan to avoid your friend in the future, rather than consider other possibilities, such as she was focused on the road and didn’t notice you.

Treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy helps to change these automatic negative thought patterns, not by replacing them with positive affirmations, but rather by challenging the thoughts and looking for any evidence that refutes them. With practice, this helps a person shift to more accurate, realistic thoughts. In turn, this can boost mood, increase motivation, improve confidence and self-control, lower stress, reduce anxiety, and help people make healthier and more productive decisions, among many other benefits.

Ready to learn more? Contact a care coordinator today!

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Who Can Benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT can be an appropriate therapy for reducing symptoms in numerous mental health conditions, including:

Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be helpful for managing the symptoms of physical health problems, such as chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and others. This type of therapy, however, may not be appropriate for individuals with certain intellectual disabilities, cognitive impairment (such as in dementia), or young children who are not mature enough to understand the concepts.


“With A Better Brain Comes A Better Life”

– Daniel G. Amen, M.D.


The Proven Effectiveness of CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been helping people for over half a century. CBT was originally developed in the 1960s by Aaron T. Beck, MD. Through his extensive work with depressed patients, Dr. Beck noticed that many of them had negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves that were inaccurate and difficult to validate. He witnessed how the patients’ depressive symptoms were exacerbated by these cognitive distortions. Subsequently, he developed a treatment protocol to help his patients challenge their spontaneous (or automatic) negative thoughts, which in turn helped them make better, healthier behavior choices. These changes effectively reduced their depressive symptoms.

Over the last several decades, the CBT model has successfully been applied to many other types of mental health conditions as well as some medical problems that have psychological components.

In 1977, the first study comparing the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy to antidepressant treatment was published. The results found that CBT was as effective as the medication in reducing depression and was twice as good at preventing a relapse of depression symptoms. The results of this study were replicated in another clinical trial in the United Kingdom, and these outcomes brought worldwide interest to this therapeutic modality.

More than 2,000 published research studies have since found that CBT is an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health disorders and symptoms as well as managing emotional distress caused by certain medical problems.

Ready to learn more? Contact a care coordinator today!

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The 9 Types of ANT Species

ANTs—automatic negative thoughts—can make people feel miserable. The doctors and psychotherapists at Amen Clinics teach their patients how to identify and challenge 9 types of ANT species that contribute to brain health/mental health problems.

  1. All or Nothing—thinking that things are either all good or all bad
  2. Less Than—comparing and seeing yourself as less than others
  3. Just the Bad—seeing only the bad in situations
  4. Guilt Beating—thinking in words like should, must, ought, or have to
  5. Labeling—attaching a negative label to yourself or someone else
  6. Fortune Telling—predicting the worst possible outcome for a situation with little or no evidence for it
  7. Mind Reading—believing you know what other people are thinking even though they haven’t told you
  8. If Only and I’ll Be Happy When—you argue with the past and long for the future
  9. Blaming—placing blame for your problems on someone or something else

By learning to challenge the ANTs and replace them with more accurate and realistic thoughts, thousands of patients at Amen Clinics have improved symptoms of depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and other issues that cause emotional distress.

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