Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a traditional therapeutic approach to therapy, whereby clients work through problems, issues, and challenges by changing the way they think and behave through the use of regular conversation with a therapist. CBT enables clients to identify and explore the ways their current emotions and thoughts affect their actions, rather than focusing on their past and its influence on their present behaviors. Most commonly employed for treatment of depression and anxiety issues, CBT has proven effective for:
Borderline Personality Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)
Eating Disorders/Chronic Alcohol Use
Additionally, for certain chronic medical conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), CBT has proven exceptionally effective when coping with pain management strategies and the anxiety which can accompany it. While it is not in any way a cure for these issues, lessening the psychological effects they may have upon a patient is of significant benefit.
CBT enlists a slate of strategies employed and practiced in order to cultivate a new and healthier pattern of thinking, coping, and behaving. An emphasis is given to evaluating how one’s thoughts can be distorted into problematic situations, and what mechanisms and behaviors can be adapted to change this way of thinking. With this critical evaluation, clients are encouraged to contrast their initial reactions to reality in order to gain a better perspective on themselves and the behaviors and thoughts – real or imagined – of those around them. Healthy problem-solving techniques are taught and practiced in order to rationally cope with troubling circumstances and difficult situations, ushering in a greater sense of the world around oneself and their confident ability to navigate within it.
Once the metamorphosis of thought has begun, it is crucial to develop proactive strategies for enduring changes to one’s behavior and thought patterns. Understanding situations that are triggering and anxiety-inducing, clients, with the assistance and guidance of their therapist, learn to recognize the thought-feeling connection, how it might manifest for them physically, and how these chain-reactions can create a revolving narrative that can be difficult to overcome. Together, they can establish and evolve the methods and processes designed to create changed, healthier behaviors. Role playing and analytical scenario discussion can prepare and empower clients for potentially precarious or troublesome situations and interactions. Finally, intensive CBT will provide healthy coping tools and self-soothing practices used to calm the mind, body, and spirit when distressing thoughts and circumstances arise, allowing the client to “be their own therapist” in the moment. CBT helps individuals with a “eating the elephant one bite at a time” approach to dealing with the issues that overwhelm them, breaking down the big picture into smaller, more digestible (and therefore manageable) opportunities for transformation. The skills gained through CBT are designed to effectively provide clients with wide-reaching and relevant tools for life-long self- and situational evaluation.
Unlike other talk-therapy modalities, CBT places emphasis on what is currently affecting an individual, rather than delving into their childhood, early life, or personal history. While this information can often contribute invaluable information in therapy, the primary objective and focus is for present-day coping mechanisms and behavioral change for a more positive and effective future by employing practical methods to create lasting mental paradigm shifts and a more positive outlook.
Rather than implementing the use of prescription medications and physician oversight, CBT allows Therapist and Client to employ tools, methods, and practices that address specific facets of treatment. Whether through one-on-one sessions, group settings, online visits, or self-help books and materials, treatment allows for regular evaluation of processes and analysis of efficacy along the way. CBT is not intended for long-term behavioral therapy, rather the course of therapy typically entails up to 20 visits, with each interaction lasting between 30-60 minutes.
CBT is a committed practice, for both therapist and client. The more the client invests their time and effort, the more they will see appreciable results, and regular attendance is crucial to a successful outcome. Further, participation in therapeutic methods, such as reading materials, workbooks, role playing, or group discussions (when appropriate), are all a cooperative effort and will yield the most benefit when taken seriously. CBT involves honesty regarding feelings, emotions, and anxieties and can cause situational discomfort for its participants. Understanding that this is part of the process is key in getting through it. CBT is not intended to diagnose or treat others; rather it is a proven method of self-examination and behavioral therapy and requires a healthy capacity to want to change one’s self, one’s unhelpful ways of thinking, learned behavior and patterns of behavior, and a desire to establish a new approach to life in all its many forms.