Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psycho-social intervention that is the most widely used evidence-based practice for improving mental health. Guided by empirical research, CBT focuses on the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems and changing unhelpful patterns in cognitions (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes), behaviors, and emotional regulation. It was originally designed to treat depression, and is now used for a number of mental health conditions.
The CBT model is based on the combination of the basic principles from behavioral and cognitive psychology. This wave of therapy has been termed the second wave. Behavioral therapy is thus now referred to as the first wave. The most recent wave is the third wave, and this contains the mindfulness-based therapies. CBT sits firmly within the second wave. It is different from historical approaches to psychotherapy, such as the psychoanalytic approach where the therapist looks for the unconscious meaning behind the behaviors and then formulates a diagnosis.