Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, generally is focused on specific problems using a goal-oriented approach. Each session may have a specific agenda to guide discussion. As you go through the CBT process, your counselor/therapist may ask you to do “homework” – activities, reading or practices that build on what you learn during your regular therapy sessions. Along with homework, your therapist will likely encourage you to apply what you're learning in your daily life.
Although there are different ways to do CBT, it typically includes activities like identifying troubling situations or conditions in your life, becoming aware of your thoughts, emotions and beliefs about these situations or conditions, identifying negative or irrational thinking and challenging and replacing negative or irrational patterns of thinking.
CBT also involves learning ways to cope with strong emotions. Therapists use techniques like relaxation, distraction, changing self-talk and a host of other techniques to help clients get through immediate distress. These coping skills are used so that symptoms can be decreased quickly, allowing for deeper changes to take place.
CBT is much more than applying coping skills to get through difficult time and goes much deeper than that. At its core, CBT seeks to change the way we perceive ourselves, others and the world. We all have irrational beliefs about these things. Most do not cause us problems, but some do. CBT seeks to identify those irrational beliefs that are causing us difficulty and modify those beliefs so they are more realistic.