What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that has been shown by more than a thousand research studies to be effective across a wide swath of behavioral health (e.g.,substance abuse and dependence, chronic pain) and mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, suicidality, schizophrenia). For more information on how CBT can be used with any condition, check out this article.

CBT is, at its heart, a collaboration between a person seeking wellness and a trained provider, focused on building skills and solving problems to help individuals reach their own individualized goals. Therapists develop a case conceptualization, based on the client’s history and patterns of cognition, emotion, and behavior to create a roadmap for treatment. Clients then learn to shift their thinking, behavior, and emotional responses in ways that help them to move toward the things that are most important to them.

More recently, CBT has been integrated with the spirit of the recovery movement to help frame therapy as a strength- and wellness-based approach to treating the whole person, rather than just their symptoms.

Given the push toward evidence-based practices, and the strong empirical support for CBT, many therapists claim to practice CBT. However, research from the Penn Collaborative and others have shown that some therapists may believe that they are delivering CBT but may actually be missing some essential elements. Only with intensive training and applied practice (including supervision or consultation with a CBT expert), followed by evaluation of CBT skills, can a therapist, supervisor, or administrator be certain that CBT is being delivered as intended.

The Penn Collaborative provides training, consultation, and evaluation of transdiagnostic CBT skills to organizations in the United States and around the world. In Philadelphia, this training is known as The Penn Beck Community Initiative

"Cognitive therapy seeks to alleviate psychological stresses by correcting faulty conceptions and self-signals. By correcting erroneous beliefs we can lower excessive reactions." — Dr. Aaron T. Beck

Back to Top