OVERVIEW OF COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a practical and structured psychotherapeutic approach that solves problems concerning problematic emotions, behaviors, and cognitions/thoughts through a goal-oriented, systematic process.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapeutic Approaches are best understood through the Cognitive Behavioral Model (pictured below). Your emotions, behaviors, and thoughts are all interrelated, and all affect each other. However, you cannot change your emotions and the way you feel DIRECTLY (Has it ever worked when you just tell yourself to stop feeling angry or sad?). But the good news is, since behaviors, thoughts, and emotions are all related, you can change your THOUGHTS and/or your MOOD in order to feel better. CBT focuses on altering cognitions that are problematic and modifying behaviors that are unhealthy or unproductive, so that you can feel better and function at your best.
EVIDENCE THAT CBT WORKS
There is empirical evidence that CBT is effective for the treatment of a variety of problems, including mood/depression, anxiety, personality, eating, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders. Treatment is direct, time-limited, and specific, and uses tools like workbooks, handouts, questionnaires, and computer-based activities. CBT can be successfully used in individual therapy, couples counseling, and group settings, and each treatment plan is especially developed for each client and the specific issues they are seeking help for. CBT has been researched in a variety of populations with different issues, and the verdict is that it works well in clients of all ages from school age children to elder adults, with different ethnic/cultural backgrounds, and different socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. CBT clients have great long-term outcomes, and relapse rates are much lower for CBT than other therapeutic techniques. CBT treatment programs are rooted in the health-care trend of Evidence-Based Treatment, and has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence as the treatment of choice for a number of mental health difficulties including depression, specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I also utilize "third-generation" CBT therapies which include Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which are scientifically proven to be effective for a variety of issues and serve as a helpful adjunct to a tradtional CBT therapy course.
PHILOSOPHY OF CBT
CBT was developed by merging Behavior Therapy with Cognitive Therapy, which has common ground in focusing on the "here and now" and on alleviating symptoms to improve quality of life for the individual. CBT upholds a collaborative spirit and therapists invite the clients in as partners of their own therapy, and takes an educative and empowering approach to helping clients recover. Ultimately, the goal of CBT is to train the clients to "be their own therapist" by providing them with a "toolkit" of helpful techniques that they can use on their own when they feel problematic behaviors resurfacing. CBT also realizes that recovery and mental health improvement does not occur in a vacuum within one hour of work per week at a therapist's office, and encourages clients to practice these skills and techniques outside of therapy appointments in order to achieve maximum benefit.