Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is a kind of therapy that has been well supported by empirical studies. What this means is that many scientific studies have found that this style of therapy helps to reduce anxiety, depression and a number of other difficulties. It’s what is known as an “evidence-based practice” because researchers have taken the time to test it to see if it helps and how much it helps in comparison with no therapy, medication therapy and other types of therapy.

If you are interested in starting to work with a Psychologist, or another type of therapist, you might wonder what you can expect from someone who is using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or “CBT”. Many CBT therapists follow specific, session-by-session protocols. However, CBT stresses the importance of a “collaborative approach” in which the therapist and the person seeking help are both considered experts, with perspectives of equal importance. What this means is that I will work with you to create a plan for therapy that we both think has a reasonable chance of being helpful. We continually refine this plan based on your experiences and what seems to be helpful. I will not be trying to make you do anything you don’t want to do or talk about anything you don’t want to talk about. Below is a loose description of what you can expect from the first few sessions, with of course lots of room to be flexible to your needs.

First Session: We’ll do an assessment so that I can get a good picture of what types of things have been bothering you, how long they have been bothering you, how often they bother you and how these things are impacting your life. We’ll also talk about what sorts of stressors you have in your life (e.g., money, school, work, relationships) and how they fit into the picture. We will also need to complete a little bit of paperwork so that we can make sure we are clear on how therapist-client confidentiality works.

Second Session: During the second session, it’s helpful if we can identify some clear goals or directions to work toward so that we can make sure we are on the same page. Also, I will probably be curious to understand what kinds of thoughts go with different types of moods that you experience, such as happy, anxious or depressed and what kinds of activities you do when you are in these moods. Understanding the connections between emotions, thoughts and actions will help us to see how you can start shifting things in a direction that you are more happy with.

Third Session and Beyond: As we continue and develop a clear understanding of what types of thoughts and activities go with the different emotions and moods you experience we will discuss experimenting with different approaches to see what works. There are a variety of option to try that we can discuss in detail, some of which give you suggestions of things to try in between our meetings. How much you do in between sessions is pretty flexible and depends on what your preferences are and how fast you want to change things in your life. Some people want a lot of “homework” and others don’t want as much at the beginning but want more later. As I mentioned before, CBT is a collaborative model, so we will work together to determine what will work best for you.