Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Adult Depression

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. This program has been rated by the CEBC in the following Topic Areas:

1  — Well-Supported by Research Evidence
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About This Program

Target Population: Adults (18 and over) diagnosed with a mood disorder, including Unipolar Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and minor depression.

Brief Description

CBT is a skills-based, present-focused, and goal-oriented treatment approach that targets the thinking styles and behavioral patterns that cause and maintain depression-like behavior and mood. Depression in adults is commonly associated with thinking styles that are unrealistically negative, self-focused and critical, and hopeless in nature. Ruminative thinking processes are also typical. Cognitive skills are used to identify the typical “thinking traps” (cognitive distortions) that clients commit and challenge them to consider the evidence more fairly. Depressed adults also demonstrate increased isolation, withdrawal, simultaneous rejection of others and sensitivity to rejection, and decreased activity and enjoyment in activities. They typically experience a number of functional impairments including disrupted sleep cycles, eating and appetite issues, and increased thoughts of death and dying. Behavioral interventions can often help these interpersonal and functional impairments. Behavioral interventions include problem solving, behavioral activation, and graded activation or exposure. Treatment is generally time-limited and can be conducted in individual or group formats.

Program Goals:

The goals of CBT are to help clients:

  • Distinguish between thoughts and feelings.
  • Become aware of how their thoughts influence feelings in ways that are not helpful.
  • Evaluate critically the veracity of their automatic thoughts and assumptions.
  • Develop the skills to notice, interrupt, and intervene at the level of automatic thoughts.
  • Use behavioral techniques to identify situations that trigger distress and sadness.
  • Use behavioral activation to become more attuned with meaningful reinforcement in their lives.
  • Develop active problem-solving skills.

Contact Information

David Teisler, CAE
Title: Director of Communications
Agency/Affiliation: Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
Phone: (212) 647-1890

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: June 2016

Last CEBC Contact Date: March 2018

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: July 2014

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: September 2012