Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

What is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to alter the thinking and behavior patterns that can keep us stuck in fear, anxiety and depression. It might involve looking at your thoughts carefully to see if they are realistic and—if not—responding to them with more realistic thoughts. It might involve learning to solve problems in your life. It might involve facing your fears, i.e., what is known as exposure therapy. Exposure therapy can involve facing an external situation (such as riding an elevator) or facing your thoughts or images (such as imagining something that makes you fearful). It might involve doing things you have been avoiding or putting off. If you are prone to worry and chronic tension, relaxation techniques may also be used.

Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Just About Thinking Positive?

No. If it were that easy, you would not need a therapist to help you. While repeating positive statements or telling yourself, in effect, “Everything will be okay” sounds good, it is too simplistic and—even more important—no more realistic than thinking negatively.

Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Effective?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches have been shown to be effective for the problems I commonly treat, including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.