Cognitive-behavioral therapy (also called Cognitive Therapy or CT or CBT) is a type of therapy which focuses on thought patterns in the present rather than feelings about the past as the root of anxiety or depression. Cith CT you learn to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.
CT is an intense, short-term treatment. Typically, 10 -25 weekly visits can help relieve symptoms. CT is likely to be reimbursed by any health plan that reimburses for counseling. (Actually, most plans are happy to see this type of therapy because it is much less expensive than long term analysis).
CT therapists use a combination of "cognitive" methods, such as a guided discovery style of questioning to reveal a person's way of reasoning and thinking and "behaviorial" approaches, like helping the person to feel safe enough to change his or her actions or face feared situations.
Cognitive therapy requires the patient's active participation. Your therapist gives you the tools to overcome negative or irrational thoughts, including relaxation and breathing exercises that help allay anxieties and fears. The idea is that you learn to become your own therapist.
With CT, the patient usually has homework between sessions. For example, you may be required to keep a daily log or map out a plan for handling situations that spark anxieties.
You also have to practice the change and test out the new approaches you've learned in daily interactions.
If you do your homework like you're supposed to, but don't see some improvement in three or four sessions - consider finding another therapist.
To find a therapist who specializes in CT, contact either of the following associations:
- National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists (www.nacbt.org) Tel.: 800.853.1135
- The Academy of Cognitive Therapy (www.academyofct.org ). Tel.: 267.350.7683.