About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a well-researched and recognized approach to therapy. In 2023, the American College of Physicians have recommended CBT as the preferred first option for treatment for mild to depression, with short-term medication a secondary choice. CBT is also recommended as the preferred first option for moderate depression. It is well-researched, too, for insomnia, phobias, anxiety, and overcoming other life challenges.
CBT recognizes the often-complicated relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and helps unravel the tangles, adapt behavior, challenge long-held problematic thought patterns, and conquer fear. CBT has a number of benefits for clients, including:
1. It is research-based.
2. CBT empowers the client, via homework, to be the primary actor for change. CBT is something we do with our clients – not something we do to people.
3. Because of the importance of homework, CBT allows clients to space therapy sessions further apart. Although CBT is a short-term therapy approach for most people, spreading sessions out makes the process easier to afford and also gives clients a chance to rehearse changes and have information to report back on in the next session.
CBT may be useful for you if:
You’re feeling “stuck.” You know what you want to do – sort of – but feel anxious, uncertain or simply find yourself not taking action in your life. Perhaps you even find yourself seeming to undermine your own plans with procrastination, anxiety, or unhelpful habits.
You have mild to moderate symptoms of depression. You feel sad, bored, and lack interest or energy in the things that used to bring meaning and positive emotion to your life.
You have mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety; you feel fearful, agitated, and are avoiding more and more conversations and settings because they stir up fear and even panic.
You have insomnia
You feel stuck in grief; it’s been a year, or two, or more, and you have difficulty figuring out what should be next in your life. Other people keep telling you it’s time to “move on,” and you don’t know what that should mean or look like.
You have one or more phobias that are interfering with living the life you want.
You are regularly taken advantage of in your personal and/or professional life.
…and, of course, for other life challenges, too!
Of course, there are risks inherent to any approach to therapy. For CBT, this includes the fact that the process can, and should, be a bit uncomfortable as clients slowly and safely push themselves out of their comfort zone to change old behavior patterns and challenge their fears, negative beliefs, or assumptions.
CBT is sometimes used too simplistically: a negative thought is identified, a counter-thought developed, and then the client is expected to simply practice the new thought and, ta da! Problem solved…but probably not. This can sometimes be the take-away people get from hearing CBT described or from too-short articles about CBT. In reality, the “negative thoughts” that underlie our problems often have deep roots that impact more than one area of life. For example, a deep-seated belief that one is “stupid” could lead to underachievement in educational settings, settling for “less” at work, accepting the domineering behavior of friends and family, and experiencing unnecessary shame over one’s imagined insufficiency. Changing the thought is one step towards lasting change.
Interested in CBT? Please call today.