CBT focuses on improving the quality of the cognitive (thoughts) and behavioral connections we make in our daily lives. When we process negative or distorted thoughts related to a stimuli—something that provokes the thought or emotional response—and then act upon it, we set up a neural pathway in our brains connecting the two. The brain becomes hardwired to respond that way each time the stimulus is encountered. When the pattern is repeated over and over, it can create entrenched dysfunction, culminating in destructive patterns of behavior.
CBT teaches the individual to reframe the thoughts or emotions into positive and constructive messaging, which in turn changes the behavioral response. The CBT therapist works with the client to help them recognize how self blame, negative messaging, irrational thinking, exaggerated negativity, and so on can lead to the problems they are experiencing in their lives. By coaching the client to shift these distortions toward positive and affirming messaging, healthier behaviors will follow. Modifying these old negative habits takes time, but with practice and helpful guidance by a CBT therapist it is possible to make significant positive changes in your life.