Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) targets distorted or irrational thought as a prime source for emotional disturbance and/or dysfunctional behavior. In stepping back and taking note of our thoughts and the way they influence our emotion and action, we begin the work of developing new and healthier ways of interacting with those thoughts, and so better manage our emotions and behaviors.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a specific form of CBT, which I have found to be an extremely elegant, flexible, and effective modality that integrates well with other approaches as needed.
Mindfulness comes out of the tradition of Buddhist meditation practice. In mindfulness meditation we develop skills of attention, learning to monitor, note, and release cognitive reactions ‑‑ thoughts/judgments ‑‑ about our perceptions, as they happen.
Skills of attention are central in the CBT work as well, though in therapy, rather than noting and releasing all thoughts that rise, we seek out the troublemakers, the irrational ones that may be driving our dysfunctional emotions and/or behaviors. Once found, we actively question their purpose and dispute their validity.
I see CBT as a form of applied mindfulness and often recommend that clients learn mindfulness meditation as an adjunct to treatment.
Dynamics. The word “psychotherapy” commonly evokes the image of the classic psychoanalyst coolly taking notes behind a patient laying on the couch free-associating about their childhood. Until recently this was a dominant form of psychotherapy. Any therapy primarily concerned with how significant past events/relationships play in the present is considered a “dynamic” therapy.
In general, cognitive therapists are more active/directive, and the therapy more present focused, striving for measurable progress in the short-term.
Though my primary mode of work is cognitive, I see the forms as complimentary. Dynamics are always present, at play, to be noted, and attended to.