Cognitive-behavioral theory (CBT) is premised on the notion that human thought, emotions, and attitudes interact to produce actions and behavior patterns that shape a person's character. The theory also contends that negative thought patterns cause distress and suffering. CBT aims to make patients aware of their negative thoughts and attitudes which, result in a distorted outlook towards life. The therapy aims to train patients to develop positive thought patterns and attitudes to reduce psychological distress. The theory asserts that mental health problems result from faulty cognitions.
There are several theoretical approaches to CBT. The ABC model assumes that there is an activating event that is reinforced by negative thoughts leading to undesirable consequences. The problem is corrected by reframing the event. The cognitive triad assumes that the individual has a negative self-image, world view, and negative expectations. The problem is overcome by helping the client recognize negative thought patterns. The negative self-schemas approach assumes that patients have negative and pessimistic expectations. This problem is corrected by demonstrating to the client that their views are irrational.