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Cognitive Therapy: What is it?

By April 30, 2021August 21st, 2021Psychology

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the most research-supported therapy in today’s world and has an excellent track record when it comes to addiction. Many studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating addiction as well as other conditions like depression and anxiety. CBT is a form of retraining behavioral patterns as a treatment to break repetitive, unhealthy cycles in a person’s life (SAMHSA, 1999). CBT was developed by Aaron Beck in 1975 and this therapy has many similarities. One is that it overlaps with Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) which is why Satori Way loves techniques for both.



What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): A short-term form of behavioral therapy that focuses on the present time to help you identify negative thoughts and feelings to challenge the beliefs behind them. Once an individual identifies these unhealthy systems of belief, they are replaced with healthier, more productive beliefs. REBT makes use of a variety of methods and tools. A few being positive reframing, the use of self-help materials, and other techniques for strengthening commitment.

In the mid-1950s, Albert Ellis, the psychologist behind REBT (rational emotive behavior therapy) explained that a person is not affected by their immediate environment. They are affected by their belief or interpretation of what happened. This theory led to many psychological advancements in therapy. The discovery of CBT was one of them. Many different forms and practices of CBT can help a variety of people needing different or specific treatment. CBT and REBT skills recognize the system of beliefs for each person (SAMHSA, 1999). CBT works to make sense of these thoughts by understanding the three different brain cognition levels.

Three Level of Cognitive Thoughts

There are 3 different levels; automatic thoughts that pop into our head, core beliefs that are shaped and based upon life experiences, and intermediate beliefs that usually take the form of rules and assumptions.

  • An automatic thought would be “That was stupid of me.”
  • A core belief is “everyone sucks.”
  • An intermediate belief is “If I didn’t suck, I would have a social life.”

The thoughts we tell ourselves directly affect our behavior and actions. These behaviors and actions over time end up turning into habits and even traits. To understand why we act certain ways or do the things we do, we must review our thoughts and understand which are deeply rooted beliefs. We then identify what can be changed into positive behavior.

CBT skills are focused on thoughts and beliefs that work to break maintenance cycles. They are an effective treatment method for treating substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder. The way we do that can be separated into 3 different ways to change how we feel— those are changing how you feel by learning something new, changing how you feel by changing what you think, and changing how you feel by changing the actions you take.

These three thought levels are a common thread when it comes to cognitive therapy styles. It’s clear many of the REBT and CBT skills share similarities. There are, however, some differences when it comes to how REBT differs from CBT skills.

Differences in CBT vs REBT

Depending on who you ask, some therapists prefer it over CBT which is why we appreciate and practice both therapies, and here’s why.

The author of Three Minute Therapy, Dr. Edelstein, explains the difference between REBT and CBT. These points support why the REBT approach may be easier to understand and utilize.

1. REBT addresses the philosophic core of emotional disturbance as well as the distorted cognitions (the focus of CBT) which derive from this core. Consequently, it is more powerful than CBT in this way. Changing your basic philosophy, the cognitive distortions are eliminated as a byproduct.

2. REBT highlights the significance of secondary disturbance (SD) which is often the largest factor in life-long (endogenous) depression, severe anxiety, and panic attacks. As far as I can tell, CBT completely ignores SD.

3. REBT maintains that all anger is destructive and teaches individuals appropriately, yet unangry, effective assertiveness. CBT views some anger as healthy and, although it teaches assertiveness, fails to address uprooting the philosophic core of anger.

4. REBT presents an elegant solution to the self-esteem problem. It teaches unconditional self-acceptance (USA), rather than any kind of self-rating, “authentic” or otherwise. Most CBT therapists focus on bolstering their clients’ self-esteem.

5. As a consequence of these powerful differences and others, REBT is easier to understand.

6. The average duration of my REBT therapy consists of 8 – 10 sessions, shorter than most CBT.

Dr. Michael R. Edelstein

(The above has the kind consent of Dr. Elelstein)

Through the ABCDE format and other forms of REBT, Albert Ellis has helped millions deconstruct these unhealthy belief systems over decades.

Restructuring Irrational Beliefs with REBT


As a conclusion, we work through a list of many other cognitive skills and techniques that fall within these therapies; CBT, REBT, and a few more we’ll talk about in later posts. Such as compassion-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, DBT, and more. When working through addictive cycles, it is crucial to tap into the cognitive functions. Take action on helping your brain rewire itself for success. Satori Way is here to set the stage with the right CBT tools to begin that process.

Want to learn how to enhance cognitive therapy skills?

Watch this awesome 20-minute TedTalk about self-transformation through mindfulness by David Vago, a Cognitive Neuroscientist. He explains the benefits when you add tools, such as meditation and mindful awareness, to a regular regime of mental training.

You are not alone if you are just getting familiar with ideas in reframing your mindset. We want to help you find the individualized path that’s right for you. Our programs build resilience in our everyday lives, with a focus on self-healing from past trauma and addictions.

Ensure you build in support, have a spiritual approach, and therapy tools to begin retraining your brain. You have the power to transform your life and habits significantly. Satori is here to set the stage with what is right for you. Join us for our free 5-day course here!


Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1999. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 34.) Chapter 4—Brief Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Available from: