Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, or CBT for short, is a goal-oriented, practical, and time-limited form of psychotherapy, one which promotes independence by teaching coping skills, problem solving, and self-help in therapy. Our clients participate in the development of a concrete, goal-focused treatment plan, which is periodically revisited in therapy. Progress towards treatment goals is measured and discussed on a regular basis. Our clients often take on weekly “homework assignments” depending on need to speed their progress, and to practice learned skills in real-world situations. CBT is designed to be a relatively brief form of treatment. Many problems can be treated in 10-24 sessions, although longer treatment is sometimes necessary.
Research has shown that CBT is highly effective in treating a wide range of problems including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, weight loss and maintenance, interpersonal difficulties, anger management, substance abuse and dependence, marital conflict, and personality problems.
The key finding in CBT is that distortions in thinking are often the cause of one’s painful feelings and dysfunctional behavior patterns. Through CBT, you’ll learn how to identify distorted or negative ways of thinking and explore whether there are alternative ways of seeing the situation. You and your therapist will then devise behavioral “experiments” that will test your new, more realistic and adaptive ways of thinking. Maladaptive behaviors will be noted, discussed, and gradually changed over the course of treatment.
The cognitive model developed by Dr. Aaron Beck and the “Rational-Emotive Therapy” model of Dr. Ellis emphasize the critical role of core beliefs. Core beliefs are basic and fundamental ways we view ourselves and the world. Individuals with harsh and rigid core beliefs are particularly susceptible to mood or behavioral difficulties. Examples of core beliefs include: “I am worthless”, “I am incompetent”, and “I must avoid failure”. CBT aims to bring such maladaptive beliefs to the client’s awareness and help develop more compassionate and constructive frameworks, which promotes deeper and more profound change.
After an initial period of assessment (between 1-4 sessions), we will work together to set up a treatment plan, or a set or realistic goals. We will then devise strategies for addressing these goals. The treatment phase typically consists of weekly, 45 minutes sessions. This phase may be as short as 6 sessions or longer depending on the problem you are addressing.
The CBT therapist’s style is active, direct and focuses on the present. Although we’ll be interested in your background and family history, we might not spend a great deal of time on your past. Instead, we’ll look at how your depression, anxiety, weight problem, marital conflict, or other problems are affecting your ability to date, achieve job or school success, have fulfilling friendships and family relations, or otherwise impair your functioning today.
Relapse prevention is a key component to CBT. Before you leave therapy, we’ll talk about ways that you can continue to monitor and improve their mood, decrease anxiety, or maintain progress on learned behavioral skills. Booster sessions, in which a client comes in several weeks to months after termination, may be necessary to maintain success.
Many clients choose to combine Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with medication. Numerous clinical trials have shown that CBT can as effective as medicine — or even more effective — in treating mood and anxiety disorders, fears, and obsessions. In certain cases, a combination approach (medication and CBT) was shown to be the best approach. Sometimes therapy can also help people reduce the use of medication. We are always happy to help you understand your options regarding medication. We are also willing to coordinate with your physician or recommend a doctor who can determine whether medication is right for you.