Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is based on the cognitive model: the way we perceive situations influences how we feel emotionally. It stresses that it is not a situation that directly affects how people feel emotionally, but rather, their thoughts in that situation. When people are in distress, their perspective is often inaccurate and their thoughts may be unrealistic. CBT helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Clients are then given tools to learn how to change their distorted thinking. When people think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral change.
Unlike many therapeutic techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy is usually more focused on the present, more time-limited, and more oriented toward problem-solving. In addition, clients learn specific skills that can be used for the rest of their lives. These skills involve identifying distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.