Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
I specialize in CBT for anxiety and depression because I’ve found it to be so effective in treating these conditions. From young adults through seniors, the people I work with come from a variety of life situations and may include anyone who is facing change. I am a member of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, an organization that certifies qualified Cognitive Behavioral Therapists. (Academy of Cognitive Therapy.)
I’ve provided some basic information about CBT below. The text is derived primarily from the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and The Beck Institute websites.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a highly focused, problem solving type of psychotherapy that studies have shown to be very effective for the treatment of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety and shyness, anger, and marital distress. CBT has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of medical conditions such as chronic pain, hypertension, and fibromyalgia.
During CBT sessions, the therapist and client work together to identify and solve problems. Therapists help clients to overcome their difficulties through changing their thinking, behavior, and emotional response.
CBT takes a highly practical, goal-oriented approach, and works quickly toward each client’s goals. Sessions typically involve education, skill building, and problem solving. Clients apply what they learn directly toward the problems which led them to seek therapy. If indicated, CBT is compatible with the use of prescribed medication.
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What is the theory behind CBT?
CBT is based on a tested theory that assumes that the way we perceive situations has a huge impact on how we feel emotionally. Many individuals are not fully aware of the impact of these beliefs and perceptions, and in therapy we help them pinpoint how their thoughts and beliefs are driving their distress. Here’s an example: Sarah reads the above description about CBT and thinks, “Wow! This sounds good, it’s just what I’ve always been looking for!” Sarah feels happy and optimistic. Larry reads the very same information and thinks, “Well, this sounds good, but I don’t think I can do it.” Larry feels sad and discouraged.
So it’s not the actual situation that affects how Sarah and Larry feel emotionally, but rather their thoughts and perceptions about that situation. People in distress often confuse their thoughts and feelings and imagine that whatever they are thinking is The Truth. CBT helps them identify their distressing thoughts by learning to observe and reflect on the patterns of their thinking. When they shift their perspective, they often feel better.
CBT also emphasizes solving problems and making changes in behavior. Experience, it turns out, is one of the most powerful ways of changing the way we perceive – and thus experience – our lives.
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What do we mean by evidence-based treatment?
Treatments which are based on evidence have proven their effectiveness through validated scientific research.
Evidence suggests that CBT is not only effective in helping people get better but is also effective in minimizing relapse and helping them stay better. Read more about the increasing body of evidence demonstrating CBT’s effectiveness at the Research Corner at the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and What Research Shows.
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Read more about CBT
- Patient Fix Thyself, by Robert Langreth, Forbes Magazine, April 9, 2007
This article provides an excellent overview of the history of CBT and how it works.
- Scientist at Work: Aaron T. Beck; Pragmatist Embodies His No-Nonsense Therapy, by Erica Goode, New York Times, January 11, 2000
This informative article tells the story of Aaron T. Beck, the founder of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
- Academy of Cognitive Therapy
This comprehensive website about CBT includes general information, research findings, and how to find a certified CBT therapist.
- The Beck Institute
This Institute provides more information for consumers including a blog and a newsletter