Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a scientifically proven to be effective in treating many psychological disorders among children and adolescents, as well as adults. I may use this intervention to work with clients who may feel stuck because their cognitive distortions or "problematic thinking" patterns prevent them from living fulfilling lives. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on the distorted thinking patterns associated with maladaptive thoughts and beliefs.
CBT helps clients understand how thoughts and feelings influence behaviors. It is applicable to a variety of behavioral health issues such as depressive, bipolar, anxiety, personality, eating, substance-related, and psychotic disorders. It also treats a wide range of disorders including health issues; family, work and school problems.
CBT is generally short-term and focuses on helping clients deal with specific problems. During treatment, clients will learn how to identify and change unhealthy or destructive thought patterns that lead to problematic behaviors. It purports that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behavior.
For example, people who spend a lot of time thinking about car crashes and major traffic accidents may avoid driving or even taking public transportation. The goal of CBT is to teach clients they cannot control everything in the world around them, but they can control how they interpret and deal with situations of their lives.
CBT is empirically supported and many specific protocols and manuals have been developed to effectively treat a variety of mental health disorders and help clients overcome a wide variety of maladaptive behaviors.
There are a range of CBT treatment approaches for emotional disorders implemented based on your unique needs:
- Behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Mindfulness based cognitive therapy
- Exposure therapy
- Cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia
The therapeutic approaches of CBT differ according to clients presenting problems. Techniques may include:
- Journaling significant events and accompanying feelings, thoughts and behaviors
- Questioning and testing thoughts and beliefs that may be unhelpful and unrealistic
- Facing activities which may have been avoided
- Role playing new ways of behaving and acting
- Relaxation, mindfulness, and distraction techniques
Effectiveness of CBT
CBT is most effective when clients are ready and willing to spend the necessary time and effort analyzing their thoughts and feelings and completing homework assignments during sessions. Although any therapy can be difficult, it is necessary for clients to learn how internal thoughts impact outward behaviors and to learn and use tools that can help them to change. CBT is also well suited for people looking for short-term treatment options that do not necessarily involve medication. One major benefit of CBT is that it helps clients develop new skills that can be useful now and in the future.
CBT and Pharmacotherapy
CBT is compatible with pharmacotherapy. When used in combination with medication, CBT interventions include supporting the client in following a regular medication schedule. CBT has been shown to be effective in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and possibly more effective than pharmacological treatments in the long-term. In addition, CBT has been shown as an effective treatment for clinical depression. Higher results of response and remission of symptoms are shown when a form of CBT and anti-depressant drug were combined than when either modality was used alone (Keller et al., 2000).