What is Cognitive Therapy?
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Cognitive therapists (CT) emphasize a collaborative and active approach for both the therapist and patient. Other hallmarks of CT include setting reasonable reachable goals, setting session agendas and having a structured approach to problem solving. We put emphasis on the present not the past. For most problems CT is short-term, lasting approximately 6 - 12 sessions. Some people may require longer time to address more complex problems or underlying personality characteristics or more chronic disorders. Most importantly, cognitive therapy can be fun and is something that you and your therapist do together based on your personal learning goals.
Cognitive therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy (i.e. CBT) was developed in the 1960’s by Aaron Beck MD. Dr. Beck originally developed CT as a proven short term treatment for depression. Since then numerous researchers have expanded the range of problems treated by CT. Today CT has become the most scientifically proven and most often recommended type of psychotherapy for depression, anxiety disorders, substance use problems, pain disorders and a wide range of other psychological problems.
The primary focus of cognitive therapy is to correct the thoughts, emotions and behaviors associated with psychological disorders. This is accomplished through testing and restructuring automatic thoughts (eg. expectations and assumptions) and learning new behaviors.
What else do I need to know about Cognitive Therapy?
Behavioral Change is an important part of Cognitive therapy. Changing your beliefs helps to change unproductive behaviors (e.g. avoidance patterns, compulsions, passivity and impulsiveness, aggressiveness).
Cognitive and behavioral strategies complement each other , so change in one area can stimulate change in another. “Behavioral experiments” are used to examine beliefs and guide the course of therapy. Behavioral strategies also emphasize replacing unproductive behaviors with constructive or useful behavior.
What are some examples of Behavioral Learning?Behavioral relearning could include; deep muscle relaxation, breathing retraining, mindfulness training, exposure and/or desensitization practice, activity scheduling, pleasure planning, interpersonal conflict resolution, assertiveness training and active listening skills.