Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach that is used by professionals to help clients cope with depression, anxiety, and a wide variety of psychiatric disorders. CBT is very useful in stress reduction, so even individuals who are not diagnosed with a mental illness can experience the benefits of CBT. Throughout the course of CBT, the therapist and client work to identify and address the client’s maladaptive thought patterns, which opens the door to positive behavioral changes. Through these modifications, negative and self-defeating mindsets are replaced with positive and effective coping strategies.
Under the classification of CBT, there are several therapeutic techniques that follow the model of changing the client’s thought pattern or the way in which the client relates to those thoughts. Unlike some other therapies, CBT is relatively brief, but it is still important for clients to attend the recommended number of sessions. The therapeutic technique usually requires some homework, so clients need to work on their developing skills outside of the therapist’s office.
CBT’s history is rooted in behaviorism. Therapies that were derived from behaviorism focused strictly on an individual’s behaviors without an examination of thoughts or emotions. Behavioral techniques were used to modify observable behavior, and factors that could not be observed were not a focus of modification. In the mid-1900s, the importance of cognition featured heavily in research and emerging therapeutic techniques. The behavioral and cognitive schools of therapy started to merge and form the many therapeutic approaches that currently fall into the CBT classification.
How Can CBT Be Used In Pain Management?
CBT is being implemented in some pain management routines. While pain is definitely a bodily experience, some experts note that negative thought patterns can have a huge impact on how that pain is experienced. With many cases of chronic pain, patients can become intensely focused on the pain, to the point of developing negative and self-destructive thought patterns. CBT for managing pain focuses on changing the way in which patients view and react to the pain. Additionally, CBT can help with stress reduction, so the stress response to the pain is lessened.
Ultimately, CBT for chronic pain can reduce feelings of helplessness, teach coping skills to patients, and promote a problem-solving outlook. Those benefits alone can help a chronic pain patient return to an improved level of functioning, but the complete therapeutic program can change the way patients relate to chronic pain.