Basic Principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Diagram – Dr. Anna Woodall

Basic principles of cognitive behavioural therapycbt diagram dr anna woodall

When it comes to addressing and managing mental health issues, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has emerged as a highly effective and evidence-based approach that focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Developed by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s, CBT has since become one of the most widely used therapeutic approaches in the field.

The basic principles of CBT revolve around the idea that our thoughts influence our emotions and behaviors. CBT aims to help individuals identify and challenge their negative or unhelpful thoughts and replace them with more realistic and positive beliefs. By doing so, individuals are able to gain a better understanding of their thought processes and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Dr. Anna Woodall’s CBT diagram provides a visual representation of the key principles of CBT. The diagram illustrates the cycle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, highlighting the interplay between each element. It emphasizes that our thoughts can have a powerful impact on our emotions and actions, and that by changing our thoughts, we can ultimately change how we feel and behave.

In addition to challenging negative thoughts, CBT also focuses on developing practical skills and strategies to cope with distressing emotions and problematic behaviors. Through various techniques such as cognitive restructuring, behavioral experiments, and relaxation exercises, individuals are empowered to take an active role in managing their mental health and achieving positive change.

Overall, CBT offers a structured and systematic approach to therapy that is grounded in the understanding that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are deeply interconnected. Dr. Anna Woodall’s CBT diagram serves as a helpful tool in visualizing these key principles, allowing individuals to gain a clearer understanding of the therapeutic process and work towards improved mental well-being.

The Core Concepts of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the connection between a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It is based on the belief that how we think about and interpret situations can influence our emotions and subsequent actions.

Core Concept 1: Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

CBT teaches individuals to recognize and understand the link between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It emphasizes the idea that our thoughts play a significant role in shaping our emotional responses and how we behave in different situations.

Core Concept 2: Automatic Thoughts

Automatic thoughts are the rapid and involuntary thoughts that come to our minds in response to a situation. These thoughts are often biased, negative, and can contribute to emotional distress. CBT helps individuals identify and challenge these automatic thoughts to promote more accurate and balanced thinking.

Core Concept 3: Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are dysfunctional patterns of thinking that can lead to negative emotions and unhelpful behaviors. CBT aims to teach individuals to recognize and reframe these distortions, such as all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, catastrophizing, and personalization.

Core Concept 4: Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring involves replacing maladaptive thoughts and beliefs with more balanced and adaptive ones. It includes techniques like thought challenging, evidence gathering, and alternative thought generation. This process helps individuals develop a more realistic and positive perspective on situations.

Core Concept 5: Behavioral Activation

Behavioural activation refers to engaging in activities that are aligned with one’s values and goals, even if they feel difficult or challenging. It helps individuals break the cycle of avoidance and withdrawal that often accompanies negative thoughts and emotions.

Core Concept 6: Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a technique used in CBT to help individuals confront and gradually overcome their fears and anxieties. By gradually exposing themselves to feared situations or stimuli, individuals can learn to reduce their anxiety and build resilience.

Core Concept 7: Homework and Practice

CBT often involves assigning homework and encouraging individuals to practice therapeutic techniques outside of therapy sessions. This allows individuals to integrate new skills and strategies into their daily lives, leading to lasting change and improved well-being.

Core Concept 8: Collaborative and Time-Limited

CBT is typically a collaborative and time-limited form of therapy, with a focus on active participation and goal setting. The therapist and individual work together to identify specific goals, develop strategies to achieve them, and monitor progress along the way.

Summary of Core Concepts of CBT
Core Concepts Description
Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors Recognizing the interconnectedness of these three components.
Automatic Thoughts Identifying and challenging biased and negative thoughts.
Cognitive Distortions Recognizing and reframing dysfunctional thinking patterns.
Cognitive Restructuring Replacing maladaptive thoughts with more balanced ones.
Behavioral Activation Engaging in valued and goal-directed activities.
Exposure Therapy Gradual confrontation of fears and anxieties.
Homework and Practice Integration and application of therapeutic techniques outside of therapy.
Collaborative and Time-Limited Working together towards specific goals in a time-limited manner.

Overview of CBT Therapy Approach

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychological approach that helps individuals understand the link between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It focuses on how negative or unhelpful thoughts can contribute to emotional distress and maladaptive behaviors. CBT aims to identify and change these negative patterns of thinking and behavior in order to improve mental health and well-being.

CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interconnected. Negative thoughts can lead to negative emotions, which in turn can lead to negative behaviors. For example, if someone believes they are worthless, they may feel depressed and withdraw from social activities. CBT challenges these negative thoughts and helps individuals develop more realistic and positive ways of thinking.

CBT is a time-limited and goal-oriented therapy that typically consists of several structured sessions. The therapist and client work together to identify the client’s specific problems and goals. They then develop strategies and techniques to address these problems and achieve the desired outcomes.

One of the main techniques used in CBT is cognitive restructuring. This involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones. The therapist may ask questions to help the client examine the evidence for their negative thoughts and encourage them to consider alternative perspectives.

Behavioural techniques are also commonly used in CBT. These techniques involve identifying maladaptive behaviors and developing new, more adaptive ones. For example, if someone has a fear of public speaking, they may gradually expose themselves to public speaking situations in order to overcome their fear.

CBT can be effective in treating a wide range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse. It can be used as a standalone therapy or in conjunction with other treatments. CBT empowers individuals to take an active role in their own recovery and provides them with practical tools and strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

In conclusion, CBT is a holistic and evidence-based therapy approach that helps individuals understand and change the connection between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. By addressing negative thinking patterns and developing more adaptive behaviors, CBT can promote mental health and well-being.

Understanding CBT Diagram

The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) diagram by Dr. Anna Woodall provides a visual representation of the basic principles of CBT. This diagram can help individuals understand the key concepts and techniques used in CBT.

CBT Model:

  • Thoughts: Our thoughts, beliefs, and interpretations of situations.
  • Feelings: Our emotional and physical responses to our thoughts.
  • Behaviours: Our actions and behaviors in response to our thoughts and feelings.
  • Physical Sensations: The bodily sensations we experience as a result of our thoughts and feelings.

Key Principles of CBT:

  1. Thoughts Influence Feelings: Our thoughts and beliefs directly impact our emotions and physical sensations.
  2. Behavioural Effects: Our thoughts and feelings influence our actions and behaviors.
  3. Behaviour Change: Changing our actions and behaviors can lead to changes in thoughts and feelings.
  4. Thought Challenging: We can challenge and reframe our negative or unhelpful thoughts to improve our overall well-being.
  5. Self-Help Techniques: CBT offers various self-help techniques and strategies to manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  6. Collaboration: CBT is a collaborative process between the therapist and the individual, where the individual actively participates in their own therapy.

CBT Techniques:

CBT utilizes several techniques to help individuals manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors:

  • Identifying Cognitive Distortions: Recognizing and challenging cognitive distortions or irrational thoughts that contribute to negative emotions.
  • Journaling: Keeping a journal to track thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and identifying patterns.
  • Behavioral Activation: Engaging in pleasurable activities to improve mood and motivation.
  • Thought Recording: Keeping a record of negative thoughts and examining evidence for and against them.
  • Graded Exposure: Gradually facing feared situations or stimuli to overcome anxiety or phobias.
  • Problem-Solving: Identifying and addressing specific problems or challenges in a structured manner.

Benefits of CBT:

CBT has been shown to be effective in treating various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. Some of the benefits of CBT include:

  • Empowerment: CBT enables individuals to actively participate in their own therapy and make positive changes.
  • Practical Approach: CBT focuses on practical strategies and techniques that can be applied in everyday life.
  • Long-Lasting Results: By addressing core thoughts and beliefs, CBT can lead to long-lasting changes in behavior and emotional well-being.
  • Evidence-Based: CBT is a well-researched and evidence-based approach with a strong scientific foundation.

Overall, the CBT diagram offers a comprehensive overview of the principles and techniques used in cognitive behavioural therapy, providing a helpful guide for individuals seeking to understand and engage in CBT.

Role of Thoughts and Beliefs in CBT

In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), thoughts and beliefs play a crucial role in shaping an individual’s emotions and behavior. Recognizing and understanding the impact of these thoughts and beliefs is an essential part of the therapeutic process.

CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts influence our emotions, which in turn impact our behaviors. By identifying and challenging negative or unhelpful thoughts, individuals can learn to modify their thinking patterns, leading to positive changes in emotions and behaviors.

Thoughts: In CBT, thoughts refer to the internal dialogues or self-talk that occurs in our minds. These thoughts can be positive, negative, or neutral, and they influence how we perceive and interpret events in our lives. Negative thoughts, such as self-criticism, over-generalization, and catastrophizing, can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Beliefs: Beliefs are deeply held convictions or assumptions about ourselves, others, and the world around us. They are powerful determinants of our thoughts and behaviors. In CBT, beliefs are categorized into core beliefs and intermediate beliefs. Core beliefs are fundamental beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world, while intermediate beliefs are beliefs that support or arise from core beliefs.

CBT aims to help individuals identify and challenge their negative thoughts and beliefs by examining evidence, considering alternative perspectives, and developing more adaptive thinking patterns. This process involves self-reflection, questioning the accuracy and usefulness of one’s thoughts, and replacing negative or irrational beliefs with more rational and positive ones.

Therapists in CBT often use various techniques, such as cognitive restructuring, guided discovery, and thought records, to assist individuals in gaining insight into their thoughts and beliefs. By changing their thoughts and beliefs, individuals can experience improved emotional well-being, reduced distress, and enhanced problem-solving abilities.

  1. Challenging negative thoughts: A key aspect of CBT is challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more realistic and balanced thoughts. This involves examining the evidence for and against a negative thought, identifying cognitive distortions or thinking errors, and considering alternative explanations or viewpoints.
  2. Identifying and modifying core beliefs: CBT helps individuals identify their core beliefs and understand how these beliefs impact their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. By examining the origins and validity of core beliefs, individuals can modify or replace them with more adaptive beliefs that promote psychological well-being.
  3. Developing positive self-talk: CBT encourages individuals to develop positive and realistic self-talk. This involves recognizing and reframing negative self-talk patterns, practicing positive affirmations, and focusing on one’s strengths and achievements.

Overall, thoughts and beliefs greatly influence our emotions and actions. Through CBT, individuals can gain insight into their negative thinking patterns and develop more adaptive thoughts and beliefs, leading to positive changes in their mental health and overall well-being.

The Impact of Emotions and Behavior

Emotions play a significant role in our lives and have a direct impact on our behavior. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) recognizes the close relationship between thoughts, emotions, and actions.

CBT suggests that our emotions are not solely a result of external events, but also influenced by our interpretation and perception of these events. For example, if we perceive a situation as threatening, we may feel anxious or fearful, leading to certain behaviors such as avoiding the situation or acting defensively. On the other hand, if we perceive a situation as positive, we may feel happy or excited and engage in behaviors that reflect those emotions.

Furthermore, CBT also acknowledges that our behavior can influence our emotions. Engaging in activities that we enjoy and that align with our values can improve our mood and overall well-being. For example, participating in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or engaging in physical exercise can boost our happiness levels and reduce stress.

CBT proposes that by identifying and challenging negative or distorted thoughts, we can change our emotions and subsequently modify our behavior. By examining the evidence, considering alternative interpretations, and developing more positive and realistic thinking patterns, individuals can experience shifts in emotions and engage in healthier behaviors.

CBT recognizes that emotions and behavior are interconnected, and by addressing both aspects, therapy can help individuals improve their mental health and well-being. Understanding the impact of emotions on behavior is crucial for individuals undergoing CBT as it empowers them to make deliberate choices and take steps towards positive change.

Identifying and Challenging Negative Patterns

Identifying and Challenging Negative Patterns

In cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), one of the key objectives is to identify and challenge negative patterns of thinking and behaviour. These negative patterns, also known as cognitive distortions, can contribute to emotional distress and unhealthy behaviours.

To identify negative patterns, individuals are encouraged to pay attention to their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in different situations. They are asked to reflect on the thoughts that come to mind, the emotions they experience, and the actions they take. By examining these aspects, individuals can start to identify any negative patterns that may be present.

Some common examples of negative patterns include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking: Seeing things as either all good or all bad, with no middle ground.
  • Overgeneralization: Making sweeping negative conclusions based on a single event or piece of evidence.
  • Mental filtering: Focusing only on the negative aspects of a situation and discounting the positive.
  • Jumping to conclusions: Assuming the worst without any evidence to support it.
  • Personalization: Blaming oneself for things that are outside of their control.

Once negative patterns have been identified, the next step is to challenge and replace them with more realistic and positive thoughts. This process involves examining the evidence for and against the negative thoughts and considering alternative perspectives. It also involves identifying more balanced and helpful thoughts that can replace the negative patterns.

A helpful technique in challenging negative patterns is the use of a thought record. This is a tool that individuals can use to write down their negative thoughts, examine the evidence for and against them, and come up with alternative thoughts. The thought record helps individuals gain a clearer perspective on their thoughts, challenge their validity, and develop healthier ways of thinking.

Challenging negative patterns is an essential part of CBT. By identifying and replacing these patterns, individuals can improve their emotional well-being and develop healthier ways of thinking and behaving.

Developing Adaptive Coping Strategies

In cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), one of the key goals is to help individuals develop adaptive coping strategies. Adaptive coping strategies are ways of thinking and behaving that help individuals effectively manage stress, challenges, and difficult emotions. These strategies are different from maladaptive coping strategies, which are unhelpful and may worsen emotional distress.

Adaptive coping strategies empower individuals to take control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to change negative patterns and improve mental well-being. These strategies are based on the principles of CBT, which emphasize the importance of identifying and challenging unhelpful thoughts, developing problem-solving skills, and practicing self-care.

Here are some examples of adaptive coping strategies:

  1. Recognizing and challenging negative thoughts: One of the first steps in developing adaptive coping strategies is to become aware of negative thoughts and question their validity. This involves identifying cognitive distortions, such as black-and-white thinking or catastrophizing, and replacing them with more balanced and realistic thoughts.
  2. Practicing relaxation techniques: Learning and practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation, can help individuals reduce stress and promote a sense of calm.
  3. Problem-solving: Developing problem-solving skills enables individuals to approach challenges in a logical and effective way. This involves breaking down problems into smaller, manageable steps and brainstorming possible solutions.
  4. Building a support network: Having a support network of family, friends, or support groups can provide individuals with emotional support, encouragement, and different perspectives.
  5. Engaging in pleasurable activities: Participating in activities that bring joy and pleasure can help individuals find enjoyment and distract themselves from negative thoughts and emotions.
  6. Practicing self-care: Taking care of oneself physically, emotionally, and mentally is essential for managing stress and maintaining overall well-being. This can include activities such as exercise, getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in hobbies or interests.

These are just a few examples of adaptive coping strategies that can be helpful in managing stress and improving mental well-being. In CBT, individuals work with a therapist to identify and develop personalized coping strategies that are tailored to their specific needs and goals.

By practicing and implementing adaptive coping strategies, individuals can effectively navigate challenging situations, build resilience, and improve their overall quality of life.

Applying CBT Techniques in Daily Life

CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is a therapeutic approach that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours. While therapy sessions with a trained professional are highly beneficial, there are also techniques that individuals can apply in their daily lives to reinforce the principles of CBT.

1. Identify negative thoughts: Pay attention to your thoughts and identify any negative or self-defeating patterns. Take note of situations that trigger these thoughts and the emotions associated with them.

2. Challenge negative thoughts: Once you have identified negative thoughts, question their validity. Challenge the accuracy of your negative beliefs and look for evidence that supports or refutes them. Replace negative thoughts with more realistic and positive ones.

3. Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Recognize that making mistakes and experiencing negative emotions is a part of being human. Practice self-care activities that promote relaxation and well-being.

4. Set realistic goals: Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. Focus on the process rather than the outcome and celebrate each small achievement along the way. This helps build confidence and motivation.

5. Use a thought record: Keep a journal where you write down your negative thoughts, the situation in which they occurred, and alternative, healthier thoughts. Go back and review your thought records regularly to track progress and identify recurring patterns.

6. Practice problem-solving: When faced with a challenging situation, take a step back and try to find possible solutions. Consider the pros and cons of each option and choose the one that seems most reasonable. Focus on finding practical solutions rather than dwelling on the problem.

7. Engage in physical activity: Regular exercise can help improve mood and overall well-being. It releases endorphins, which are natural mood-enhancing chemicals. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your daily routine.

8. Practice relaxation techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation into your daily routine. These techniques can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm and clarity.

9. Seek social support: Surround yourself with positive and supportive individuals who can provide encouragement and understanding. Share your thoughts and feelings with trusted friends or family members, or consider joining a support group where you can connect with others going through similar experiences.

10. Be consistent: Applying CBT techniques in daily life requires consistency and practice. Make a commitment to yourself to prioritize your mental well-being and incorporate these techniques into your daily routine. Over time, they can become second nature and have a positive impact on your overall mental health.

Benefits and Limitations of CBT


  • Effective treatment: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been extensively researched and has been found to be an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders.
  • Short-term therapy: CBT is typically a short-term therapy, with most treatment plans lasting between 12 and 20 sessions. This makes it a more time-efficient option compared to other therapeutic approaches.
  • Evidence-based approach: CBT is based on a solid theoretical foundation and has been supported by numerous scientific studies. It is considered an evidence-based approach to mental health treatment.
  • Focus on present and future: CBT primarily focuses on the here and now, helping individuals identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their current difficulties. It also helps individuals develop coping strategies and problem-solving skills to better manage future challenges.
  • Collaborative and empowering: CBT is a collaborative approach, with therapists and clients working together as a team. It empowers individuals by teaching them practical skills and techniques that they can apply independently outside of therapy sessions.


  • Not suitable for everyone: CBT may not be suitable for individuals with severe mental health conditions or those who are not ready or motivated to engage in therapy. It is important to assess individual needs and circumstances before determining if CBT is the appropriate treatment.
  • Focusing solely on thoughts and behaviors: While CBT is effective for many individuals, it does not address the underlying causes of mental health conditions, such as trauma or unresolved emotional issues. It primarily focuses on thoughts and behaviors, which may limit its effectiveness in certain cases.
  • Requires active participation: CBT requires active participation and engagement from individuals in order to be effective. It may not be suitable for individuals who struggle with self-reflection or have difficulty engaging in therapy homework assignments.
  • Limited availability: Access to CBT may be limited depending on geographical location, financial resources, and availability of trained therapists. This can make it difficult for some individuals to access CBT as a treatment option.

Despite these limitations, CBT remains a widely used and highly effective approach to mental health treatment for many individuals. It is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional to determine if CBT is the right fit for your needs.

Questions and answers

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that aims to change the negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to a person’s distress or mental health problems.

How does cognitive behavioral therapy work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy works by helping individuals identify and challenge their negative thought patterns and beliefs, and replace them with healthier thoughts and beliefs. It also helps individuals develop effective coping strategies to manage their emotions and behaviors.

What are the basic principles of cognitive behavioral therapy?

The basic principles of cognitive behavioral therapy include the understanding that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, that negative thoughts can be identified and changed, and that individuals can learn new skills to cope with challenges and improve their mental health.

Who can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy can benefit individuals who are experiencing a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse problems, among others. It can also be helpful for individuals who want to improve their overall well-being and develop healthier coping strategies.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy- Explanation of the Principles

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