Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.

— Eckhart Tolle

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, often referred to as “CBT” is a method of psychotherapy that developed from the disciplines of behavior therapy and cognitive therapy. CBT conceptualizes that how we think (cognitions), how we feel (emotions) and how we act (behaviors) all interact together. Often distortions in our thinking lead to negative emotions and maladaptive behavior. By experimenting with strategies that challenge or test those distorted beliefs, one can achieve positive changes in mood and behavior.

The concept of self-help

Newer forms of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy emphasize a structured self-help program as part of the treatment. People who do these self-help assignments between therapy sessions usually progress more rapidly. Conversely, people who are unwilling to help themselves between sessions are often slow to improve. For this reason, it is important to consider whether you are willing to make an effort to do self-help or homework assignments as part of your treatment.

Homework & self assessment

Homework takes various forms and may involve keeping daily mood logs, activity schedules, behavioral experiments or bibliotherapy (reading assignments). If you are working to change behavior, you may be asked to keep a simple record of occurrences of new or old behaviors.  Rest assured, the homework isn’t judged or graded. All that is required is that you be committed to completing homework to the best of your ability. You may be asked to fill out a mood survey between or just prior to sessions. This a simple test to evaluate the severity of your sadness, depression or anxiety. This ongoing evaluation is a valuable tool for understanding whether the treatment is working.

New skills & strategies

You will learn how to identify cognitive distortions and we will use various techniques to uncover and change self defeating beliefs that are affecting your mood, your habits and/or your relationships. If your goal is to improve your relationships, you will learn secrets of effective communication and we will identify attitudes and behaviors that are inhibiting intimacy. These skills will help you to become your own therapist during and long after your treatment has ended.

Relapse prevention

Just as important as achieving your treatment goals is that you learn how to deal with times when you start to lapse into old behaviors or old ways of thinking. Part of what makes cognitive behavioral therapy so effective is that we anticipate that there will lapses from time to time and we prepare you to deal with those situations. This is why it is important not to leave therapy as soon as you are feeling better. We will need to have at least one session to discuss relapse prevention or you may choose to schedule infrequent but regular check-in sessions so that we can handle any relapse issues should they arise.