Cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are both psychotherapy techniques used to help people deal with mental illness or stressful life situations. The main difference between the two is that while both target negative and unhealthy mental processes, cognitive behavioral therapy also helps people learn healthy and beneficial behaviors. Both types of therapy have been shown to be effective at helping people learn to deal with difficult situations and mental illnesses.
People with many types of mental illness, such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, can be helped by cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. These therapies can help people deal with and reduce the symptoms of mental illness or prevent a relapse. They can also be effective at helping people through difficult situations, such as relationship troubles or grief.
When considering cognitive therapy vs cognitive behavioral therapy, the difference is in their approaches. In cognitive therapy, a person focuses on the here and now, identifying and tackling current problems in her or his life. The person in therapy, with the help of a psychotherapist, identifies unhealthy thought processes and works to change them. For example, a person may think “people don’t like me,” and a therapist will help him or her examine that thought and change it to a more positive and realistic one.
It can be difficult to compare the two types of therapy because they are very similar in their theory and application. While cognitive behavioral therapy does all the same things as cognitive therapy, it also targets behaviors. A psychotherapist will help a person identify healthy behaviors and set goals to accomplish those behaviors. For example, a depressed person may set a goal to do one fun activity with friends each week.
When deciding between cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, a person must consider which approach works best for her or him. Many therapists use an eclectic approach, meaning they are skilled in several types of therapy and use the technique that works best for each particular client. Other types of therapy, such as interpersonal therapy, may also be helpful for the same conditions.
Both types of therapy are founded in the idea that a person can change his or her negative thoughts and behaviors to more healthy ones. At times, the difference between the two is minimal. Cognitive behavioral therapy is much more commonly practiced because the behavioral component has been shown to be very effective.