Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (also known as CBT) is an evidenced-based talk therapy created for people who are suffering from anxiety and depression among other mental health problems and behavioral issues. Unlike some talk therapies that focus on the past or unconscious processes, CBT focuses on the here-and-now. The essence of CBT is founded on the interconnection and interplay between our thoughts, feelings and actions. During times of distress, people often think and behave in extreme and unhelpful ways which prolong distress and make it hard to access healthy coping skills.
CBT is a collaborative process whereby clients are first asked to identify their goals for treatment, i.e. reduce self-harm, reduce depression, increase social relationships, etc. From these goals, client and CBT therapist develop a shared view of the individual’s problem which then leads to identification of personalized, time-limited therapy goals and strategies which are continually monitored and evaluated. Clients are asked to reflect on and explore the meaning attributed to events and situations and reevaluate these meanings. As such, CBT is inherently empowering in nature in that the focus is on specific psychological and practical skills aimed at enabling the client to tackle their problems by harnessing their own resources. The acquisition and utilization of such skills is seen as the main goal, and the active component in promoting change is the “homework” done on applying these new skills between sessions. Thus, the overall aim is for the individual to attribute improvement of their problems to their own efforts.
CBT can be used on its own or in conjunction with medication depending on the severity or nature of each client’s problem. While there are decades of robust research outlining the efficacy of CBT, some clients find it insufficient or excessively change-oriented to motivate application of new skills. When this is the case, we recommend Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a newer and highly effective form of CBT that includes a psychoeducation DBT group that teaches emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance and mindfulness skills as well as offers phone coaching between session to help facilitate positive and lasting growth and change. At our counseling center we offer CBT and have a fully adherent DBT program among other evidenced-based psychotherapies.