CBT is the most evidence based and widely used therapeutic approach today. CBT was developed by Aaron Beck, MD in 1979 and refined by others like David Burns, MD in the early 1980’s.
CBT transformed the field of psychotherapy from endless talking to being problem-focused, time-limited, and evidence-based. CBT rests on the assumption that humans feel bad not because of events but because of how we think about those events. CBT helps us understand how our thoughts about the world are actually flawed and helps us reframe them to be more realistic. So the things we say to ourselves is central to this therapy.
In CBT, we learn to decipher the lies we are undermining ourselves with— based on the bias embedded in the things we say. For example, “I’m never going to make any friends” is an example of all-or-nothing thinking and we feel bad because we buy into this thought. Removing the (all-or-nothing) distortion reveals a more balanced thought: “I haven’t made any friends yet” or “I’m sure I’ll make one or two friends eventually” takes the sting out and helps us cope with the reality of the situation in a more productive way instead.
Repeatedly challenging thoughts frees us from the tyranny of negative beliefs we have about ourselves. But here’s the rub: Like anything that’s good for us, the repeated practice part is both necessary and hard!
Like almost anything worth doing, CBT is effortful. We need to record our thoughts and challenge them, again and again before it becomes natural. This is especially difficult right at the moment when we would benefit most from doing it — i.e., when we’re experiencing strong emotions.
That’s what Woebot is for. Instead of pulling out a sheet of paper and filling out a form when we’re feeling badly, we can tell Woebot about what’s going on. And he can hold our hand through the whole process of challenging our thoughts.
Woebot won’t give us answers, but he will ask the right questions so that we can figure it out on our own.