Cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) is a short-term, action-focused form of psychotherapy. CBT aims to address specific problems utilizing techniques that have been supported by research findings. The aim of CBT work is to improve your feelings/mood by making changes in the way you think about a situation, the way you behave, and/or the way you interpret and respond to your emotions. Unlike other forms of psychotherapy, CBT work usually does not focus on discovering the origin of a problem or gaining insight into a problem. Rather, CBT focuses on how an existing problem(s) can best be solved.
What is CBT?
In the first 1-3 sessions of CBT treatment, We aim to get to know you and understand the problems that you would like to work on. Armed with this knowledge, we will create a treatment plan with specific goals in mind. Our sessions will be guided by this treatment plan. However, we will constantly re-visit this plan, and change it if we feel it is not working.
As part of your treatment plan, we may explore one or more of the following:
Behavioral work: This involves changing your behavior in the service of meeting your goals. Examples include:
- Adopting a pattern of regular eating (Eating Disorders)
- Gradually exposing yourself to things/situations/people you fear (Anxiety Disorders)
- Following a schedule of both productive and pleasurable activities (Depression)
- Exploring new ways of communicating with your partner or co-workers (Relationship problems, Work difficulties)
Cognitive work: This involves exploring the ways that you think about things, and challenging any types of thinking that may be maintaining your problems. Common examples of problematic thinking include:
- Catastrophizing (always expecting that the worst will happen)
- Black-and-white/all-or-nothing thinking
- Perfectionistic thinking
- Jumping to conclusions
Mindfulness work: Increasingly, CBT therapists are incorporating mindfulness techniques into treatment. The aim of mindfulness exercises is to help you learn to pay full attention to your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the present moment, without judging them. If you can learn to fully experience your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the moment, you are in a better position to respond to these thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a productive way.
Other features of CBT
In CBT, there is usually homework assigned at the end of every session. Therapy sessions only last for 45 minutes each week; the real work is done between sessions, when you experiment with new techniques during your day-to-day life. In our experience, the people who do the best in CBT are the ones who do their homework regularly!
In addition, CBT is designed to be collaborative. Our goal as CBT therapists is to work collaboratively with you to ensure that you are meeting your goals. We will encourage you to always give me feedback about what is working and what is not. Together, we will figure out what works best for you.