Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a relatively short-term, focused psychotherapy for a wide range of psychological problems including depression, anxiety, anger, marital conflict, loneliness, panic, fears, eating disorders, substance and alcohol abuse, and dependence and personality problems. The focus of therapy is on how you are thinking, behaving, and communicating today rather than on your early childhood experiences. I assist the patient in identifying specific distortions (using cognitive assessment) and biases in thinking and provide guidance on how to change this thinking.
Cognitive therapy helps the patient learn effective self-help skills that are used in homework assignments that help you change the way you think, feel and behave now. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is action-oriented, practical, rational, and helps the patient gain independence and effectiveness in dealing with real-life issues.
Reading Material: You and I can decide together what additional reading material can help you understand your problem. There is an excellent source of reading suggestions on a great number of issues on the home page. I will try to suggest readings that reflect scientifically based approaches to depression, anxiety, relationship issues and other problems.
Plan of Treatment: You and I can work together to set up a problem list or goals that you want to work on. These problems might include procrastination, self-esteem, sadness, inactivity, anxiety, relationship conflicts, or any problems that you think you need help with. Over the course of treatment we can devise plans and techniques to address these problems.
Self-Help: A great deal of research shows that patients who actively do self-help homework are more likely to improve and maintain their improvement. You and I can develop techniques and interventions that you can practice outside of therapy sessions to help you feel more effective in handling your emotions, negative thoughts, relationships and behavioral problems. Self-help builds a sense of self-effectiveness.
Agenda-setting: Although you and I will want to be open to dealing with your immediate concerns as they arise in the session, I recommend that you come to each session with one or two issues that you want to address for that meeting. In addition to your topics, we will want to review your feelings about the last session, any self-help you used, and your plans for the coming week, including additonal self-help.
What about medication? Medication can often help you get a better handle on your problems. Therefore, you will want to consider medication as part of your treatment. Not all patients need to take medication—in fact, for depression and anxiety, many people get better without medication. However, it may be a valuable additional tool that you can use. I can provide you with referrals to leading psychopharmacologists in the area for a medication consultation. Some patients—for example, those with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia— should take medication as an essential part of their overall treatment program.
Why cognitive therapy?
As you know, there are many kinds of therapy that are available. I focus on a wide range of different kinds of cognitive and behavioral therapies—in order to find the treatment best suited for you. The exciting thing about cognitive- behavioral therapy is that it actually works. This conclusion is based on a great deal of scientific research. Numerous outcome studies show that cognitive therapy is as or more effective than medication in the treatment of depression, anxiety, obsessions, and other fears and does not have the negative side-effects of medications. Furthermore, it is often superior to other treatments in preventing relapse because patients learn self-help in therapy. Many patients choose to combine cognitive-behavioral therapy with medication. Cognitive therapy is the most widely tested form of psychotherapy for depression and the anxiety disorders. Recent research shows that cognitive therapy can also be used with medication for patients with bipolar disorder.