Cognitive behavior modification therapy is a type of psychosocial therapy used when it’s believed that maladaptive or poor thinking patterns are the cause of negative feelings and maladaptive behavior. Behavior that is maladaptive is not only counter-productive, but can also interfere with and affect the every day life of the individual. Cognitive behavior modification therapy focuses on changing the patient’s thinking (cognitive patterns) so their emotional well being and behavior improves. The thinking patterns of the individual are called automatic thoughts.
Cognitive behavior modification therapy is the recommended treatment for a number of disorders including personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, affective mood disorders, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic or anxiety disorders. It has occasionally been used with success as a treatment for insomnia.
Cognitive behavior modification therapy is based on the fact the patient exhibiting the maladaptive or incorrect behavior is doing this due to their automatic thoughts. They have their own viewpoint, distorted as it may be, of what a certain situation may be rather than how it really is. For example, a person that doesn’t get a job they want may believe he is worthless. The purpose of the cognitive behavior modification therapy is to help the patient become aware of his distorted feelings and then to help them change their feelings. This is referred to as cognitive restructuring.
A major part of cognitive behavior modification therapy is to “retrain” the individual into turning the poor behavior into a better and healthier behavior. The therapists or doctors don’t deal with trying to figure out why the individual feels the way they do. They just work on helping them to change their counter-productive behavior.
There are several different methods that are used in cognitive behavior therapy. One method is giving the patient homework assignments consisting of the patient trying out some new experience that was discussed in therapy. They then have to report on how it went.
Another method is for the patient to describe a difficult situation (imaginary or real) in their life and the therapist will walk them through it suggesting ways it may be handled. Having the patient keep a journal of all the times when they have difficulty in between therapy sessions is often helpful in cognitive behavior modification therapy. Role-play is another way of helping the patient learn about better ways to get through difficult periods in their life.
Another method used is for the patient to explain why they feel a certain way about a situation. They have to show some validity to their thoughts to the therapist. The validity has to be based on what they’ve learned in therapy. Rewards are also used as a way to help the patient. They are given a certain privilege that they enjoy if they get through a difficult situation with success. There may be one or all of these methods used depending on the patient.