What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Several people can go through the same experience and have very different reactions.  While the situation is the same, one becomes depressed, another feels high levels of anxiety, a third becomes angry, and a fourth takes a healthy approach to the challenge and moves forward.  So our feelings don’t come directly from what happens to us, they come from our interpretation of what is happening.  That interpretation can be based on false information, on past traumatic experiences that occurred coincidently with a similar situation, on a learned tendency to always look on the dark side or the scary side of situations, or on a tendency to see situations as an affront.

While most therapy approaches work with the majority of clients, there is a lot of research showing that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT has a higher success rate in a shorter period of time.  The focus is on helping you change maladaptive behaviors and patterns of thinking that lead to excessive feelings of depression, anxiety, or anger.  During the first session we establish what your goals are for therapy and begin our work together to accomplish your goals.  I usually give you homework of brief articles to read or things to practice between sessions to speed your recovery.

A quick example:  You are walking down the street and a man is approaching you who looks angry.  You may become anxious or angry until you notice he is holding a parking ticket in his hand.  Whew!  Your perception changed to match reality better and you lightened up.

CBT helps you to increase your ability to notice an uncomfortable feeling right away and to look at your self-talk and quickly make adjustments based on reality.  It is not about saying everything is great when it is not.  Affirmations can only carry you so far if in your heart you don’t really believe what you are saying to yourself.  CBT helps you to notice distortions in your perception of a situation sooner so that you don’t suffer needlessly.

I look forward to your call with your questions about how CBT can benefit you.


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