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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Resources

Cognitive behavioral Therapy is a psychological treatment that has been the source of much research over the last 20 years, and has been shown to be the most effective treatment for most psychological disorders, often more effective than medication. Whereas traditional talk therapy treats mental disorders and psychological problems by talking about early relationships, Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on immediately targeting current problems. This results in a quicker response to treatment, as well as stronger and more lasting treatment gains. CBT has become widely accepted as the gold standard for treating mental health issues. 

CBT focuses on altering thought patterns and behavior routines to quickly affect emotional syndromes. By recognizing and changing problematic cognitive and behavioral patterns, new emotional states are produced, improving quality of life. For instance, when treating depression, cognitive distortions that elicit depressive emotional responses are identified, and more adaptive ways of thinking are developed. Because people with depression often withdraw from rewarding behaviors, opportunities to increase experiences of pleasure and mastery are identified, and more rewarding behaviors are increased. Through thinking and behaving more adaptively, over a relatively short period of time, depressive symptoms remit. 

CBT for anxiety works in a similar fashion. Worries and fears fuel excessive anxiety, so treatment begins with identifying thoughts that "catastrophize" situations, and assumptions that the worst-case scenario is likely. Through learning more effective ways of thinking about worries, the frequency and intensity of worry dissipates, resulting in less anxiety and a greater sense of calm. CBT for anxiety also includes exposure treatment, which is a form of therapy that helps people face their fears, thus reducing their fear. By gradually and slowly confronting sources of worry and anxiety, people quickly shed the associated negative emotional states. Some CBT treatments are effective in 90% of patients, making it more effective and longer-lasting than anti-anxiety medication for many people. 

CBT has been found to be effective for the following disorders and problems:

  • Depression
  • Generalized Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Panic Disorder
  • OCD
  • Phobias
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating Disorders
  • Relationship Problems
  • Impulse Control Disorders
  • Chronic Pain
  • Stress Management
  • Anger Management
  • Substance Abuse 
  • Addictions
  • ADHD
  • Procrastination

Cognitive behavioral therapy can only be performed by a licensed therapist with specialized training. When searching for a CBT therapist, it is important to ask specifically about their CBT training. Usually therapists who undergo an intensive CBT training program lasting a year or more are qualified to provide cognitive behavioral therapy. Generally, psychologists have the most training, followed by social workers, and last, counselors and marriage and family therapists. It is also important to know that the therapist actually works from evidence-based protocols, which are guidelines for treatment informed by research. Ask about the protocols the therapist uses, and be suspicious of therapists unfamiliar with protocols for the problem you would like help with.