Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is...
In a nutshell, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you learn to change your thoughts, feelings and behaviors so you feel better. By targeting your reactions to situations, CBT can help you react more effectively in challenging situations, and even learn to feel better when you are unable to change situations happening around you.
Unlike a lot of talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is a problem-solving therapy aimed at helping you achieve your goals. The goals can be anything from getting a job to finding a romantic partner to reducing feelings of anxiety or depression. Once you meet your goal, you and your therapist collaboratively decide whether there is anything remaining to work on, or to end treatment.
Cognitive behavioral therapy typically focuses on present difficulties and current situations that are distressing them. This here-and-now focus allows you to solve current problems more quickly and effectively. Identifying specific challenges and focusing on them in a consistent and structured manner results in greater treatment gains, and in a shorter period of time than in traditional talk-therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy requires you and your therapist to work as a team, collaborating to solve problems. Rather than waiting for problems to get better after talking about them repeatedly from week to week, you are able to take an active role in your own treatment, using self-help assignments and CBT tools between sessions to speed up the process of change. Each session is focused on identifying ways of thinking differently, and unlearning unwanted reactions.
CBT is a time-limited therapy, meaning once you feel significant symptom relief and have the skills you need for success, treatment can end. This makes CBT significantly shorter in duration than traditional talk-therapy, which can last years. Many people finish CBT after just a few months of treatment. However, not everyone makes significant progress in a short time; some people may need additional therapy to reduce symptoms and create lasting change. Those with serious, chronic psychological problems may need anywhere from six months to several years of treatment. However, even in these cases CBT is generally more effective and of shorter duration than traditional talk therapy.
The most widely researched therapy that exists, over 500 studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBT for numerous psychological and medical problems. It is one of the few therapies that is scientifically proven to be effective. For more information on the kinds of problems CBT can be used to treat, explore this site using the navigation bar at the top. Follow this link to a chart comparing the effectiveness of CBT to other treatments.
Making big changes can be difficult. Cognitive behavioral therapists take this very seriously, and are dedicated to helping the client along this process at the client's own pace, offering CBT tools in an environment of warmth and caring. Relying on the foundation of a supportive relationship, clients feel more comfortable stepping outside of their comfort zone to achieve their goals.
For more information about what CBT is, what it is used to treat, and the methods we use, explore our site using the navigation menu at the top of this page.
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For more information: New York Times Article: "Evidence That Therapy Works"
Information about different cognitive behavioral therapy exercises.