Cognitive behavior therapy is a widely utilized and popular form of therapy based on the cognitive model of psychopathology. CBT states that our emotions, body responses, and behaviors are influenced by our perception of events that we are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past. According to the CBT model, situations do not initially determine what people feel or how they behave. However, it reflects how our perception of these events determines the emotions we feel, resulting in patterns of behavior. In contrast, it is the interpretation of the event or situation that contributes to our feelings of distress which is referred to as the cognitive model triangle. According to this model, the cognitive triangle illustrates how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect one another. This idea forms the basis of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In addition, an important aspect of CBT is centered around “automatic thoughts” which shape our perception of an event that is taking place. This implies that when we change our thoughts, we will also change our emotions and behaviors. By focusing on irrational or maladaptive thoughts, mood, and behavior can be improved, therefore shifting our understanding or perception of the events that have or are currently taking place. Educating a client on the importance of their automatic thoughts can lead them to understand how past traumas and significant experiences have shaped their current worldview. This realization can lead to the healing required to overcome past traumas and assist in the treatment of PTSD. CBT is known to be quite effective for depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma. In conclusion, the cognitive triangle shows how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect one another. This means changing your thoughts will change how you feel and behave.
Written by Dr. Jason-Anthony Prendergast – Doctorate in Pastoral Psychology and Registered Mental Health Intern