Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that uses a systematic and goal-oriented approach to address dysfunctional behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Inpatient CBT treatment is one of the most common and effective types of psychotherapy used in treating mental illnesses and personality disorders, including substance abuse problems, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and mood disorders. CBT has been favored in psychotherapy partly because of the trend in health care toward evidence-based treatment, in which specific treatments are recommended based on symptomatic diagnoses.
Cognitive behavioral therapy attempts to change maladaptive thinking to bring about alterations in affect and behavior. This is done by challenging the patient’s way of thinking as well as his or her reaction to a variety of behaviors and habits. Cognitive behavioral therapy has six distinct phases:
- Skills acquisition
- Skills consolidation and application training
- Generalization and maintenance
- Post-treatment assessment and follow-up
Inpatient CBT treatment has been effective in many different applications of psychotherapy. Anxiety disorders are particularly susceptible to this form of treatment. A form of CBT called in vivo exposure, in which the patient is gradually exposed to a feared stimulus, is often used when treating phobias.
The treatment stems from the theory of classical conditioning, where the assumption is made that the fear-causing stimulus is negatively reinforced by avoidance and therefore is maintained instead of diminished. CBT is also very effective against clinical depression, where it is used to allow the patient to overcome harmful thought processes and recurring images in order to lessen the effects of depressive episodes and even to lower the chances of a patient relapsing.