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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a goal oriented approach to therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) describes a group of psychotherapeutic treatments that have been shown to be effective in treating many emotional and behavioral disorders in children, teens, and adults, both in individual and group therapy. These treatments have been developed based on behavioral and cognitive research studies. CBT is a goal oriented approach to therapy with time limitations.

CBT focuses on addressing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are causing a person problems. All these elements are interrelated and affect one another.  How one thinks affects how one feels and that affects how one behaves.  For example, if an adult is struggling with feeling defeated or low, it might be because he or she is thinking “I can’t do anything right,” or “things never work out for me,” or having other thoughts about what he or she should be doing, but is not.  The resulting behavior may be inactivity, change in sleep habits, and withdrawal from friends.  Treatment might include helping the client engage in healthy activities (taking small steps at a time) and changing thinking patterns (focusing on more realistic thinking).

Another example:  If a child feels anxious and worries about separating from a parent, he or she might think, “What if someone will come after me and hurt me?” or, “What if something bad happens to my parent?” or other “What if’s.” These thoughts might be accompanied by stomach aches, headaches, and/or difficulty breathing.  Behaviorally, the anxiety may look like avoidance of activities and refusal to go anywhere without a parent.  Treatment might include developing coping strategies to deal with the anxiety (restructuring and challenging the thoughts), gradually exposing the child to the fear (slowly increasing separation from the parent), helping the parent(s) institute a motivational system, teaching relaxation techniques, and giving assignments after each session to practice at home.

CBT focuses on current challenges and the settings in which they occur. Therapists work in a collaborative manner with adults.  When working with children, therapists collaborate with parents to develop specific goals.  Progress is made through work within the sessions and through homework assignments that require practice at home, work and/or school.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a component of CBT that is designed to gradually expose individuals to situations or thoughts that cause distress. It is a highly effective path to free individuals from unhelpful anxiety and OCD cycles. During ERP, the individual learns to cope with triggering situations in a safe environment and tolerance to uncomfortable situations increases. This process of reducing anxiety and distress over time is called habituation. Our therapists are highly trained to help guide clients through this therapeutic approach.


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