What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In the wide panorama of different approaches to psychology it is not easy to find the right one. But there is one of all that stands out for practicality and effectiveness. Here's some information to start making some clarity.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based, practical, goal-oriented, collaborative and short-term form of psychotherapy. It aims to teach cognitive and behavioral skills useful to modify thoughts, emotions and behaviors that are a source of discomfort.

Currently, thanks to thousands of scientific studies and researches, it has been recognized by the international scientific community and the World Health Organization as one of the most reliable and effective therapy models for the treatment of numerous psychological disorders.

We can imagine TCC as a large container that contains a wide range of methods and techniques of proven scientific efficacy. This large container is extremely elastic, and therefore, always ready to integrate innovative and effective forms of intervention and therapeutic approaches.

For more information on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy it is possible to consult the following sites:

A little bit of history...

First wave of CBT

The roots of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy date back to the early 1900s as a reaction to the lack of efficacy of the psychodynamic therapies. Those therapies had dominated the first half of the 20th century, but struggled to respond to the new psychological and psychotherapeutic needs of the second post-war period.

The first behavioral therapists (Watson, Rayner, Wolpe Eysenck, Lazarus), starting from Pavlov's studies on learning and classical conditioning, focus on the reduction of problematic behaviors using rigorously validated techniques and procedures based on the principles of learning .

Subsequently, with the theory of social learning (Bandura), more importance is given to the effect that thought processes have on learning and behavior.

The emphasis, which in the first period was placed on behavior and learning and the lack of attention to the study of thought processes, characterizes the "first wave" of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.


Second Wave of CBT

In the 1960s, the second phase begins, with the advent of cognitivism by A.T. Beck in the USA with his Cognitive Therapy and A. Ellis with Rational Emotional Therapy in the United Kingdom.

The turning point is to focus attention on the link between thoughts, emotions and behaviors and on the role of conscious thought in the psychotherapeutic field. This moment is known as the "cognitive revolution" or "second wave" of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

It is precisely from the integration between two generations, Behavioral Therapy with his focus on behaviors and Cognitive Therapy on mental processes, that the concept of Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy is born.


Third Wave of CBT

The so-called "third wave" of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was born 50 years after its beginnings. The representatives of the "third wave" have tried to improve their ability to work with thought processes rather than their content.

In the third wave there is, therefore, more emphasis on the ability to react differently to one's thoughts, without questioning them or trying to rediscuss them.

The "third wave" has contributed to integrating Mindfulness and Acceptance practices within traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Among the main mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies that belong to the so-called "third wave" we can include:

  • Mindfulness
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT
  • Compassion Focused Therapy
  • Schema Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy