Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on helping the client become aware of how thoughts, attitudes, expectations and beliefs can contribute to feelings of unhappiness.
The client learns how certain beliefs, which he or she may have developed in the past to deal with difficult experiences, are no longer helpful or true in the current situation. For example, the therapist may help a client who was physically abused as a child to explore and question the mistaken belief that he or she is responsible for the abuse. CBT can also involve exposure techniques. These strategies are particularly helpful for people with simple posttraumatic stress; that is, those who have been traumatized by a single event. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing the person to the feared situation.
CBT can also help the client to develop coping strategies to reduce anxiety. Strategies may include breathing retraining, relaxation and visualization exercises.