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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

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Updated November 28, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychological counseling aimed at improving problem behaviors, beliefs and emotions, so that patients can better manage their illness and become more functional. An example of a problem belief is: "I'll never get better, so it's useless to try."

CBT is a commonly-recommended treatment for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It may be used to improve compliance with doctors' orders, correct poor sleep habits, to accept illness, and much more.

Especially for chronic fatigue syndrome, CBT is sometimes maligned by the patient community. This primarily stems from the approach of some doctors, which is to use CBT—often combined with graded exercise therapy—as a primary treatment, instead of secondary to treatments such as medications and/or nutritional supplements.

Examples:
Cognitive behavioral therapy helped me stick to a better diet and improve my sleep habits, which made me feel a lot better.

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