What are the Different Types of Cognitive Treatment?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Cognitive treatment is a form of mental health therapy that focuses on helping individuals to change their perception of a given situation. The goal of these types of treatments is to help the patient identify what is causing the disturbing perception, then successfully move away from that perception to one that is less traumatic. There are several different forms of treatment that can be used individually as well as collectively in order to achieve the desired outcome.

Issues with cognition are at the heart of many cases of depression and anxiety. Over time, something has taken place that skews the individual’s worldview, resulting in situations where the individual develops extreme apathy and a lack of interest in anything. These same events can also cause anxiety attacks that seem to come out of nowhere. When left untreated, depression and anxiety can open the door for the development of many different types of phobias that further limit the ability of the individual to function.


One of the first approaches to cognitive treatment is known as talk therapy. Many people are familiar with this concept; a trained counselor spends time with a patient, allowing him or her to talk about whatever comes to mind. The counselor uses questions to help guide the patient to discovering what is causing this skewed view of reality, come to terms with it, and eventually overcome the issue. While many people assume that the counselor or therapist’s job is to hand the patient a cure, the fact is that talk therapy requires the active participation of the patient in order to uncover the underlying reasons for the cognitive disconnect and to determine how to repair the damage.

Along with talk therapy, behavioral therapy is also one of the more important tools used in the process of cognitive treatment. This approach seeks to change the perceptions of whatever is causing the cognitive problems for the patient. For example, a patient suffering with panic attacks may be provided with mental exercises that help to calm the fears that occur while in the throes of the attack. This can help to minimize the incidence of quickly recurring episodes that are often perceived by the individual as one long panic attack. As the patient begins to successfully move through an attack, the anxiety becomes less frightening and easier to overcome.

This form of cognitive therapy has many forms, but one of the more popular approaches to cognitive treatment today is known as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT. CBT has been extremely helpful with people suffering from anxiety disorders, as well as phobias such as agoraphobia. A therapist using this approach helps to equip the patient with tools that can be used in any setting to float through and thus overcome a panic attack. While effective, CBT requires commitment from the patient, and is rarely an overnight cure. However, it is not unusual for patients to see improvements within a month to six months.


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Virtual reality therapy: Treats phobias and fears.

Rational emotive therapy: Stops individuals developing irrational beliefs and helps them to identify consequences.

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