Therapy can seem like a bit of a mystery. The whole process feels like you visit a person that you’ve never met before, you tell them what’s bothering you, and based on that they’re somehow able to magically fix the problems in your life. We grow up thinking of therapy as this process where you lay on a couch and talk about your mother while a therapist scribbles notes and occasionally asks a leading question.
Therapy has come a long way since those days, and an emphasis on evidence based treatment has propelled psychotherapy into a new era. Let’s dispel old notions, demystify therapy, and learn about how CBT works.
What Does Effective Therapy Look Like?
Effective therapy is a partnership between the two of us. I add value, but so do you. If you wanted to lose weight, would you expect to see results by simply signing up for a gym membership, or for a weekly session with a personal trainer? You’d have to actually do the work, right? If you sign up for the gym, but only go occasionally, or attend a weekly session with a personal trainer and spend the rest of the week eating junk food while not working on the exercises that you were given, you probably wouldn’t lose much weight, right?
The same idea applies to therapy. Our therapists at CBT Treatment Center are a lot like that personal trainer. We use our expertise to help you achieve your goals, and we hold you accountable to them. That being said, it’s up to you to do the work. If you expect to be able to drop your kid off once a week for 45 minutes and we will “fix” them, without you doing much in the other 6 days, 23 hours, and 15 minutes to work on the problems that they are facing, you are likely to be disappointed. Your child is not a car, and we are not mechanics. This is true of your own therapy as well.
However, if you do choose put in the time and effort, we can be a formidable team that helps you to overcome some of life’s most daunting challenges. This collaboration is the very essence of effective therapy.
CBT is an Evidence Based Treatment
With this idea of teamwork in mind, let’s delve into what CBT is, and how it helps you get better. CBT is an acronym that stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is noteworthy in that it is an evidenced based treatment for a multitude of mental health disorders and conditions.
You may be wondering, “wait…isn’t all psychotherapy evidence based?” As strange as it may sound, not all of it is. The American Psychological Association states “Evidence-based practice in psychology (EBPP) is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences” (link)
These treatments are backed by empirical studies and peer-reviewed research, and this information is applied within the context of a patient’s value system. That last part is important. In order for therapy to be effective, it must fit within the framework of who you are, what is important to you, and how you view the world.
How does CBT work?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is rooted in the idea that your thoughts determine your behaviors and feelings. If you want to change how you feel and act, you must change how you think. It is a cause and effect relationship. Let’s take a common fear, and look at it through the lens of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
You’re at a party. You walk into a room, and just as you do, everyone starts to
laugh. Your first thought is that they’re laughing at you. It feels awful, you’re
embarrassed, and perhaps you sneak away to check yourself in a bathroom
mirror to make sure that everything is okay. You rejoin the party, but you’re
still preoccupied with the thought that there’s something wrong with you,
which caused everyone to laugh, and now you’re keeping to yourself to avoid
more embarrassment. The thought (they’re laughing at me) led to the feeling
(anxiety) and behavior (avoiding people).
What if the initial thought was wrong? What if you found out that someone told a joke right before you entered the room? It would probably change how you felt and how you acted the rest of the night, right?
Challenging negative and/or inaccurate thoughts is the very heart of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The feelings and behaviors are the symptoms, and the thoughts are the causes. If you suffer from anxiety, OCD, depression, or other mental health disorders, it is likely that you are plagued by patterns of negative and/or inaccurate thoughts. CBT helps you to restructure these thoughts, and see them through a different filter. When you do, your feelings and behaviors follow suit.
Types of cognitive behavioral therapies include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT), Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Habit Reversal Training (HRT), and others.
How long does it take?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short-term treatment, relative to other forms of therapy, with an average of 12-16 sessions. Some situations require more, and some require less, but the ultimate goal is to help you fix a problem. You shouldn’t be in therapy forever. Our approach is focused on giving you solutions in a clear and concise manner. You will most certainly be required to work toward your goals, but the steps along the way will be straightforward. We will have a plan.
Do you prescribe medication?
No. CBT is strictly talk therapy. If we believe that you may benefit from medication, we can provide a referral to a psychiatrist or medical doctor that is qualified to prescribe meds, but we do not do so.
CBT is Our Specialty
Here at CBT Treatment Center, our therapists have years of experience at some of most well regarded institutions in the world, using our expertise in evidence based treatments to help people overcome their anxiety, OCD, depression, trichotillomania, and a variety of other mental health disorders. We can help you do the same. Please call (424) 262-2014 for a free, 15 minute consultation so we can discuss your situation.