Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an empirically-supported psychological (non-medication) treatment approach characterized by teaching the patient a set of coping skills intended to modify thoughts, behaviors, and physical responses that increase anxiety.
These responses describe the 3 ways that anxiety and related symptoms show up in a person's life and form the CBT Triangle: cognitive, physiological, and behavioral. CBT targets each point on the triangle.
The approach is present–focused and problem-specific. CBT sessions are structured and goal-oriented. The course is time-limited (typically one session per week for 10-20 weeks) and the CBT therapist is directive and action-oriented. Habit Reversal Training for tics and Tourette’s syndrome and Exposure and Response Prevention for obsessive compulsive disorder are examples of disorder-specific CBT.
Depending on the developmental level of the patient and the specific therapeutic needs, there are times when treatment is more family- and/or behaviorally-focused.