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Ask the Experts


What is cognitive behavioral therapy and how would I go about finding someone who conducts it?

Answered by: Franklin Schneier

Cognitive-behavioral therapy refers to a group of psychotherapies that target maladaptive thoughts (cognitions)and problematic behaviors. Specific forms of cognitive behavioral therapy have been extensively studied and established as an effective treatment for many psychological problems and disorders.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy differs from typical psychotherapy in focusing on the here-and-now, often being offered as a short-term, time-limited therapy, and having undergone frequent testing in scientific experiments.

An active therapist helps the patient to identify maladaptive thoughts and to systematically question them in order to arrive at a more helpful perspective. The therapist may also instruct the patient in techniques to reduce symptoms (e.g. relaxation exercises for anxiety) or to directly change behaviors (e.g. confronting a phobic situation to learn that it is not truly dangerous). Practice exercises are conducted within sessions and through homework.

Therapists with specific training in cognitive behavioral therapy can be found through the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (, the Anxiety Disorder Association of America (, or local mental health professional organizations.