Frequently Asked Questions about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
WHAT IS COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT)?
CBT is a psychotherapy that has been tested in many research studies as well as in a wide variety of clinical settings. It has been shown to be effective for anxiety and depression. CBT helps people of all ages understand, cope with, and change painful emotional reactions by learning to control and change their thinking (cognition), actions (behaviors), and cope with bodily reactions (for example racing heartbeat, blushing, nausea, or headache). CBT provides the structure necessary to help build coping skills and gain a realistic outlook about life’s challenges.
What can I expect as a client in CBT?
A differential diagnostic interview is often conducted. This includes a thoroughly reviewing your history and current difficulties, as well as questionnaires that will help me determine an accurate diagnosis. The diagnosis helps design an effective, customized treatment plan that includes specific goals to address the reason the client seeks help. I will provide education about the condition you
face and explain the course of treatment to you.
Anxiety involves avoiding feared situations, people or objects. Since the anxiety is maintained by avoiding these things, I will help you learn to confront these fears in a safe and supportive manner. You will learn strategies to cope with being in the feared situations. The more tolerance you build to being in your feared situation, the less anxiety you will feel.
Click this link for about about what to expect in CBT, and here for more information about treatments for children and adolescents.
How often are CBT sessions? Is that often enough?
CBT usually occurs once weekly for 45-50 minutes. CBT emphasizes your active role both during and between sessions. This leads to improvement in your skills and reduction of your symptoms over a relatively short time period.
During sessions, you learn to apply skills to the difficulties you face in a supportive environment. Between sessions, you are encouraged to practice the techniques learned each week by applying them to pleasant and distressing situations.The more frequently you practice your CBT skills, the more likely the techniques are to help with your concerns.
The techniques often help with other areas of difficulty not specifically focused on during therapy sessions. The more effort you put into practicing CBT, the more you will benefit from it.
I don't have that much time to spend in therapy. Can I have more frequent or longer sessions?
CBT sessions may occur more frequently than once weekly. However, exercises to practice the techniques at home are still vital to success in CBT. If not enough time passes between sessions for enough practice to occur, you may not benefit as much as you would like.
I can also provide intensive treatment with longer sessions. This has been effective with phobias, OCD, panic with or without agoraphobia, and PTSD, and can be helpful to be able to confront your fears for a longer duration.
Do you conduct CBT sessions for groups?
I’ve heard that some psychotherapies take years to complete. How long is a "full dose” of CBT?
The length of CBT varies by the disorder being treated and the client's symptom severity. In most cases, CBT can lead to some relief in the first 6 to 8 sessions, and help eliminate or significantly reduce the severity of symptoms of a disorder within a few months.
Some people respond faster while others need additional sessions. I make this decision collaboratively with my clients, based on the severity of the presenting problem and additional co-occurring diagnoses.