What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all connected and are constantly impacting one another. What we feel impacts what we think and what we do and what we think is critical to how he behave and feel and so on. The techniques are based on changing the way we think and behave to change how we feel and how we live our lives. These techniques have been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of a wide variety of psychological issues including: anxiety, depression, PTSD, anger, sexual issues and social and specific phobias.

Cognitive approaches

The basic theory in CBT is that our thoughts influence our emotions and that our emotional responses are reactions to our interpretations of events in our daily lives. It is through our filters and distortions that we interpret these events leading to emotional responses. Sometimes these interpretations lead to feelings of sadness or anxiety. Cognitive tools help to identify and change those interpretations and improve the individual’s mood and functioning.

In cognitive therapy, clients learn to:

  • distinguish between thoughts and feelings
  • identify thoughts that seem to happen automatically
  • evaluate those thoughts as to their validity or accuracy
  • develop new skills to notice, stop and correct those thoughts

Behavioral approaches

Just as with the cognitive approaches, our behaviors are tied to our emotions. Behaviors are repeated or extinguished based on reinforcement. That is to say, that when a behavior produces a positive effect it is repeated and when it produces a negative effect it stops. Sometimes in our lives we develop patterns of behavior that are effective at achieving our goals in a certain setting or set of circumstances. As circumstances change, some of these behaviors stop being useful and actually become destructive or contribute to a feeling of being stuck.

In behavioral therapy, clients learn to:

  • identify the behaviors that are getting in the way of their goals
  • determine the continued usefulness of those behaviors
  • construct new, more adaptive behaviors
  • learn to change the maladaptive ones to new effective behaviors

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT, and working with a cognitive behavioral psychologist, may be different than what you have seen on television or imagine from stories you have heard.

  • Practical: The work is based on symptoms and problems that are happening in the here and now, it is designed to impact your life in a real and recognizable way.
  • Skills based: You will learn new skills to monitor and change your thoughts and behaviors that are interfering with your goals.
  • Symptom focused: We will work with the goal of reducing the negative symptoms you are experiencing in a directed and focused manner.
  • Action oriented: As compared with insight driven therapies, CBT is based on making directed and conscious changes in thoughts and behaviors to realize change.
  • Research based: CBT continues to be validated through rigorous scientific study.
  • Collaborative: The therapist plays the role of a guide with a theoretical and technical expertise, but the patient is the expert in his or her own life and as such the client and therapist work together toward the desired goals.