Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (“CBT”) is a goal-oriented, systematic style of psychotherapy that is appropriate for some clients who want to address specific problems, symptoms, and diagnoses (patterns of symptoms). The focus of the treatment is on the present, in contrast to other forms of psychotherapy that focus more on the client’s past – particularly one’s early childhood. CBT is effective because of its collaborative nature. An important part of the treatment process involves the client completing assigned tasks between sessions, such as written homework assignments, charting mood and behavioral “experiments”. CBT is evidenced based and has been extensively researched. It has been shown to be one of the more clinically effective forms of treatment for many mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders, panic, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
CBT involves talking about oneself and exploring personal thoughts and feelings. In addition, the therapist may introduce certain tools to help the client observe and evaluate his/her thought processes, behaviors, and feelings. Frequently, the client is asked to complete tasks between sessions. For example, the client may be asked to count how many times they engage in certain behaviors, or to track their moods, or or to keep a journal of thoughts and events over the week.
It can be used in “pure form”, or in conjunction with other counseling approaches. Its basic premise recognizes that the ways we think and behave are often maladaptive in characteristic ways, and have a direct effect on our emotional state. When we learn how to observe ourselves more objectively, and to adapt healthier patterns of thinking and behaving, we make substantial improvements to our mood, functioning, and overall outlook.
I use CBT with clients in conjunction with other counseling approaches. I encourage my clients to approach treatment with a sense of curiosity about themselves, and a willingness to challenge themselves and confront issues head on. Together we collaborate and facilitate a process of healing aimed at reducing symptoms and behaviors which have blocked their ability to move forward by exploring different ways of thinking and being in the world.