CBT: Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Challenging Negative Thoughts

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of talk therapy. This form of therapy focuses on present situations and encourages the participants to become aware of negative thinking patterns to respond to situations more effectively. 

This psychotherapy involves a therapist assisting the participant to identify negative thinking and thought processes through several sessions. Once identified, the therapist assists the individual in challenging these negative thoughts to assist them in viewing the world more clearly, (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

Core Principles 

CBT was designed around the theory that our behavior is influenced by our feelings, and our feelings are influenced by our thoughts. By challenging negative thoughts and becoming more aware of our thought patterns, we can improve our feelings, and behave more effectively. The following three core principles drive cognitive behavioral therapy, (APA, n.d.).

  1. Unhelpful ways of thinking create or influence psychological problems. 
    2. Learned patterns of ineffective behaviors, create or influence psychological problems.
    3. We can reduce these problems by learning more effective coping techniques.

What this means is that most psychological problems are caused or worsened by negative thought patterns which drive ineffective, or unhealthy behavior. By improving our thought patterns, we can minimize psychological problems and induce effective behaviors. 

Therapy Goals 

The end goal of CBT is that we will become fully aware of our negative thought patterns, become excellent at challenging and modifying these thoughts, and behave in a way concurrent to the situation rather than the situation we create within our minds. While participating in cognitive behavioral training, you will work towards the following, (APA, n.d.).

  • Recognizing thought distortions causing issues, and reevaluating the thoughts in reality.
  • Understanding the motivations and behaviors of others more effectively.
  • Coping with challenging events by using problem-solving skills.
  • Improving self-confidence in self and abilities.

As you can see from the goals listed above, a major takeaway of CBT is that we learn to see things for what they are instead of what we believe them to be. This is especially helpful for those of us that struggle with the following thought patterns. 

  • All or Nothing Thinking 
  • Catastrophizing
  • Mind Reading and Over Assuming
  • Self-blame
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Overlooking the Positive
  • Overreacting and Generalizations


Learning to reverse thinking patterns that have been used for years or decades isn’t easy. Most of us wouldn’t even know where to begin on our own. A CBT therapist will encourage several strategies to assist in modifying and challenging these negative thought patterns. These strategies could include one, or a combination of the following, (APA,n.d.).

  • Challenging your Fears
  • Role Playing
  • Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
  • Thought Journaling
  • Mood Tracking 

Recipients of CBT

CBT is not a one-size-fits-all therapy solution. This form of therapy is beneficial to individuals that have a worsened quality of life, related to the thoughts that they tend to form. This form of talk therapy is especially beneficial to individuals who fit one of the following criteria, (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

  • Need to manage, or prevent relapse of, symptoms of MI.
    • Feelings of depression
    • Feelings of anxiety
    • Sleep issues
    • Unrealistic fears
    • Compulsive behavior
    • Obsessive behavior
    • Substance abuse
    • Sexual promiscuity
    • Fear of intimacy
  • Aim to prevent relapse in MI symptoms. 
  • Attempt to treat MI with or without medication.
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • PTSD
    • Sleep disorders
    • OCD
    • Eating Disorders
    • Schizophrenia
    • Bipolar Disorder
  • Are coping with stressful life circumstances. 
  • Want to identify and learn new ways to manage emotions.
  • Aim to improve communication. 
  • Are prone to relationship conflicts.
  • Are dealing with loss, grief, etc.
  • Want to overcome trauma.
  • Are suffering from chronic physical symptoms, (i.e; pain). 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Cognitive behavior therapy is evidence-based and backed by science, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Talk therapy can be incredibly effective, but it can also make you feel incredibly vulnerable. Take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of CBT below, (The CBT Clinic, n.d.).


  • An effective treatment for MH disorders with or without the use of medication. 
  • Effectively teaches you how to help yourself, therefore requiring less time and money compared to other forms of therapy. 
  • Can be effective in multiple formats, including; group settings, self-help books, and virtual programs. 
  • Teaches skills that can be used in multiple areas of life


  • Requires commitment and cooperation. This is a hands-on therapy approach. 
  • CBT requires legwork outside of therapy, (Practice, journaling, mood-tracking, meditation).
  • Sessions may momentarily increase anxiousness or emotional discomfort. 
  • Focuses primarily on current issues and behavior, rather than diagnosis and past behavior

Live in the Present

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing current thought patterns to promote more effective behavior now and in the future. It typically does not take into account trauma, neglect, or abuse that may have occurred in the past. For individuals working through these painful histories, it can feel like the foundation of the issues is being overlooked. Due to this, I would suggest a more traditional form of therapy be utilized in conjunction with CBT. This would provide thought-retraining while working through a traumatic history and addressing the inner child.  


American Psychological Association. (n.d.). What is cognitive behavioral therapy? American Psychological Association. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, March 16). Cognitive behavioral therapy. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610 

Pros & Cons of CBT therapy. The CBT Therapy Clinic – Nottingham – West Bridgford. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2023, from http://www.thecbtclinic.com/pros-cons-of-cbt-therapy 


Published by alswartz

I am an aspiring novelist working on my first book. I have an interest in mental health and each of my works is related to mental health in some way.

One thought on “CBT: Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Challenging Negative Thoughts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: