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What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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January 13, 2021 Read Time - 4 minutes

Learn How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works

If you have been struggling with stress, substance use, chronic health problems, mental illness, or other issues, you may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). What is CBT? How does it work? Where can you get CBT?

Here’s what you need to know about cognitive behavioral therapy.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.


What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aims to challenge negative ways of thinking in order to develop more positive behaviors and responses.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used for many things. CBT can help people:

  • Manage and prevent symptoms of mental illness
  • Find ways to manage emotions
  • Learn to cope with stressful life situations
  • Cope with loss or grief
  • Overcome emotional trauma
  • Cope with a medical illness or chronic physical symptoms
  • Learn how to communicate and resolve relationship conflicts
  • Treat mental illness without medication

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

Some of the most common CBT techniques include:

  • Cognitive reframing or restructuring, which tackles negative thought patterns.
  • Exposure therapy, where you are slowly exposed to things that trigger anxiety.
  • Guided discovery, which helps to broaden your thinking and challenge negative beliefs.
  • Behavioral experiments, where you try to predict what will happen before you do a task that causes anxiety, then go back and talk about whether the prediction came true.
  • Activity scheduling and behavior activation can help you to schedule things that you tend to put off due to anxiety.
  • Thought records and journaling help you get in touch with your thoughts.
  • Role-playing can help practice social skills and assertiveness.
  • Stress reduction and relaxation techniques can lower stress levels and increase feelings of self-control.
  • Successive approximation breaks up large, overwhelming tasks into smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish.

What Are the Three Goals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

The three primary goals of CBT are to:

  • Get people back to doing the activities they want to do
  • Help people with problem-solving issues that are affecting their life
  • Adjust a person’s thinking to better adapt to everyday situations

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Involve?

Cognitive behavioral therapy usually involves multiple sessions with a psychotherapist to tackle specific issues. Some of the steps involved in CBT can include:

  • Setting goals
  • Identifying negative thoughts
  • Practicing new skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-monitoring
  • Gradual progress

CBT can be used for a variety of issues and is highly personalized to the person receiving the therapy. No two CBT treatment plans look exactly the same, and cognitive behavioral therapy will involve different things for each person.

How Long Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Take to Work?

Depending on what issue you are trying to resolve, how much work you put into therapy, and other factors, cognitive behavioral therapy takes an average of three to five months to complete.

You may start to notice benefits as soon as the first session, or it may take a few appointments to start seeing the positive changes it may have on your daily life. 

Where Can I Get Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Many different types of mental health professionals may offer cognitive behavioral therapy, including:

  • Licensed professional counselors
  • Licensed marriage and family therapists
  • Licensed social workers
  • Psychiatric nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists

CBT appointments may be done in person or online. If you have health insurance, check your policy to see whether mental health services are covered and how to receive them. You may need a referral or may be directed to a specific practitioner.

Without insurance, you can search for therapists in your area or online who specialize in CBT. Not all therapists do cognitive behavioral therapy, so ask ahead and make sure they have experience handling your issue.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Near Me

Cognitive behavioral therapy is right at your fingertips. Using your phone or computer you can get CBT online. It’s clinically proven to be just as effective as in-person therapy for mild to moderate anxiety and depression.

PlushCare is now offering online therapy with many of our top therapists practicing CBT. With online CBT, you can get the help you need from the comfort of your home.

To make an appointment for online therapy, click here and start getting emotional support as soon as today.

Read More About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Please Note: PlushCare does not have online psychiatrists at this time. That said, our primary care physicians are able to prescribe mental health medications such as antidepressants, and if necessary can provide you with a referral to a psychiatrist.


Mayo Clinic. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Accessed on December 7, 2020 at

American Psychological Association. What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Accessed on December 7, 2020 at

PubMed. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Accessed on December 7, 2020 at

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