Questions

  • Are you ready to make some changes to how you think and how you act in the world?
  • Have you tried other forms of talk therapy, like psychoanalysis or psychodynamic therapy, only to find that very little has changed?
  • Are you interested in a relatively short-term course of therapy?
  • Are you struggling with a specific psychiatric problem, including Major Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social  Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Panic Disorder, Phobias, Insomnia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) might be for you.

Characteristics

CBT examines the interrelationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. In particular, it focuses on how what we think and what we do influence how we feel. In doing so, it has several characteristics.  CBT is...

  • Pragmatic. CBT doesn't encourage an in-depth exploration of one's childhood or personal background.  While this inquiry is helpful in understanding the origins of one's difficulties, it is often insufficient in addressing the underlying issue(s).
  • Skills-based. CBT does encourage the adoption and practice of skills to address problems and help you feel better.
  • Present-focused. CBT acknowledges that change (and acceptance) can only happen in the present. Thus, it encourages the practice of new skills and perspectives in real time.
  • Data-driven. CBT encourages psychological research in order to assess its effectiveness. This research might be done as part of a large-scale study at a hospital or by someone in individual psychotherapy. For example, we often ask our patients to complete questionnaires in order to determine their progression therapy.

Techniques

CBT incorporates many techniques to help people manage their difficulties.  Some common ones include the following:

The ultimate in exposure therapy

The ultimate in exposure therapy

  • Examining the Evidence. As soon as you think something, you react to your thought as if it were true. But what if the thought is wrong? A common approach in CBT is to treat a thought as hypothetical and explore evidence to determine if it is true or false.  
  • Perspective-taking. Imagine that a friend or loved one is experiencing the same difficulties that you are.  What would you say to him or her?  Would you use the same critical or anxiety-provoking language that you tell yourself about it?  You probably show considerable kindness and love towards others, and we’ll help you learn to talk to yourself more compassionately.
  • Identifying Distorted Thoughts. With practice, we can identify common errors in thinking, including “all-or-nothing” thinking, mind reading (thinking that you know what someone else is thinking), fortune telling (predicting the future), and many more.  
  • Exposure. The best way to overcome our fears is to confront them.  If you’re afraid of rejection, then ask out a lot of people.  If you’re afraid of heights, then peer over the edge of the Empire State Building (you don't have to do gymnastics!).  Gradually and systematically, we’ll help you approach the things that scare you; you’ll learn to be less afraid and live your life more freely.

Typical Session

During therapy, we’ll teach you new perspectives and skills.  Sometimes, we’ll do role play exercises together.  At other times, we’ll guide (and even accompany) you in confronting your fears.  In between our meetings, you’ll be invited to try various approaches and then report back to let us know how they worked.  

In CBT, we don’t spend much time discussing your childhood.  While this information is helpful in understanding important milestones in your development, it doesn’t develop any new ways in approaching your life or your difficulties.  In fact, it can make it more difficult to change.  After all, the past is over--no matter how much you talk about it, your childhood will not be different.  You can only change your life now.