Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: The Benefits and Limitations for Treating Mental Health

The methods and modalities for treating mental health issues are always in a constant state of flux. This is because our understanding of mental health continues to evolve. Sometimes this evolution tells us that a certain treatment option is not as effective as was once thought, and other times this evolution gives us new treatments or shows that existing ones also work for other disorders. Ultimately, this is the same journey that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been on and continues to travel.

Yes, CBT has been a highly effective modality for treating mental health issues, with benefits such as self-esteem building and coping skill development, to name but two. However, CBT also has limitations, such as its time consumption and dependence on full client participation. As with any treatment modality, the key is to utilize CBT on an individualized basis and as part of a customized recovery plan. At  Galen Hope, we have found that CBT is most effective alongside other treatments.

What Exactly Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

The book Cognitive Behavior Therapy by Suma P. Chand, Daniel P. Kuckel, and Martin R. Huecker offers perhaps the most concise description of what CBT is. “CBT is based on a straightforward, common-sense model of the relationships among cognition, emotion, and behavior.” The three aspects of cognition focused on in CBT are automatic thoughts, cognitive distortions, and underlying beliefs or schemas. By addressing these three thought concepts, the ability to adjust the associated behaviors becomes more possible.

Regarding automatic thoughts, the goal is to recognize the ones that cause harm or discomfort so they can be mitigated in the future. Cognitive Behavior Therapy further explains that by examining “dysfunctional automatic thoughts that are exaggerated, distorted, mistaken, or unrealistic in other ways,” one begins to better understand the relationship between them and negative behaviors.

Similarly, examining cognitive distortions, such as overgeneralizing and catastrophizing, can help an individual further understand how their “skewed” thought processes can cause them to react and overreact in unnecessary and unhealthy ways to external situations. Lastly, regarding underlying beliefs, one can get a better understanding of their core value sets and how they both help and hinder the way in which they interact with the world.

What Are the Benefits of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

CBT was first introduced over 70 years ago, and it is still considered by many in the psychological field to be one of the more beneficial therapies for treating issues of mental health and addiction. Two of those primary benefits are providing improvements in the way in which an individual can learn to better cope with external situations and the way CBT can help build and rebuild self-esteem and self-worth.

Individuals that struggle with issues of mental health and mental illness often have difficulty interacting with others as they go about their everyday lives. These difficulties can manifest in countless ways, such as avoidance of others, heightened negative emotions toward situations, and trouble communicating certain wants and needs. CBT can help get to the underlying cognitions related to these behaviors and then begin to create ways in which they can be navigated in the future. Ultimately, CBT can help create the coping mechanisms necessary for day-to-day life.

Individuals struggling with their mental health also often have difficulty with their self-esteem and self-worth. Now, this may have existed prior to their mental health issues or may have manifested as a result of them. Regardless, regaining these necessary qualities are critical for moving forward, growing, and enjoying life to its fullest. CBT can help restore these qualities by restoring confidence in the way in which an individual feels about going into a situation and approaching others. With CBT, they can better understand their worth and thus better convey it to the rest of the world.

What Are the Limitations of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

Just like any other therapy, there are also limitations to CBT. As previously mentioned, these include time consumption and dependence on full patient participation.

First of all, it is a fallacy to think that these two limitations of time and participation are up to the individual’s willingness to get well. There are very real logistics associated with these two limitations. Does the person actually have the time to devote to CBT? Many people simply do not have that luxury as they go about their day-to-day responsibilities.

Also, there is the very real potential that an individual is not ready in their recovery journey to participate in CBT at the level that is required. This is okay. They will either grow into this participation necessity as they recover, or perhaps another treatment modality is best suited for their situation.

Galen Hope’s Recovery Mission

At Galen Hope, our mission is to help individuals not merely recover but to recover in a way that is going to offer them long-term growth. Here at Galen Hope, we don’t just treat disorders and diagnoses. No, we work alongside each individual to better understand their backstory, their current struggles, and their ultimate goals for recovery. At Galen Hope, we don’t just treat “clients” on a chart. No, we treat the whole person and all of their fundamental values and worth.


Built on the principles of assertive community treatment, Galen Hope is an eating disorder and mental health treatment center offering individualized treatment options that include Intensive Outpatient (IOP), supported housing, and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP). As a “Community of Integrated Wellness,” we pride ourselves in fostering a thoughtful and meaningful care experience that can guide our clients on their road to recovery and increased quality of life, regardless of diagnosis. Galen Hope currently offers separate, age-specific programming for adolescents ages 12-17 and adults 18 and up of all genders. To learn more or to join our community for integrated wellness, please contact us today at (888) 592-1817.

Belong. Heal. Grow.

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