Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Explained
What is CBT?
You may have heard of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy ("CBT"). CBT is a goal-oriented, systematic style of psychotherapy that requires active participation by both client and therapist. Generally speaking, the focus of the treatment is on the present, in contrast to some other forms of psychotherapy that focus more on the client’s past (particularly one’s early childhood). Most often when I use CBT with clients, it is in combination with other psychotherapy approaches.
With CBT, we can challenge your gloomy, fearful, or self-critical thinking style, giving you relief from depression and anxiety.
In essence, CBT recognizes that the ways we think and behave are often maladaptive in characteristic ways, and have a direct effect on our emotional state.
Don't believe everything you think.
As 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.
CBT requires an active and collaborative spirit between client and therapist. An important part of the process involves the client completing tasks between sessions, such as written homework assignments and behavioral “experiments.”
This is one of the more extensively researched styles of psychotherapy. It has been shown in randomized clinical trials to be a very effective form of treatment for many mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders, panic, substance abuse, and eating disorders. It is widely used in healthcare settings that favor time-limited and scientifically-backed treatments.
What is CBT like for the client?
Like any form of talk therapy, 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.
Together, we become scientists.
When I use CBT with clients, I encourage them to cultivate a sense of curiosity about themselves, and a willingness to experiment. We explore different ways of thinking and being in the world, without any attachment to particular outcomes. The client ultimately evaluates the results and his/her progress towards the identified goals.
Sometimes the techniques are more straightforward and behavioral in nature. A client who is suffering from panic attacks, for example, will initially benefit from learning and practicing breathing and relaxation skills to reduce the frequency and duration of panic attacks.
Hypnosis is a powerful adjunct to CBT.
Hypnosis is a natural complement to CBT. I offer hypnosis to my clients for supporting and deepening the positive cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes they are experiencing in psychotherapy.