my approach


westchester psychology

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Rationale and Overview. The overall goal in cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] is to modify one's thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions, and to change one's usual pattern of behaving. Modifying the way in which you think can facilitate both emotional and behavioral change. Similarly, altering the way you act can result in cognitive and emotional change. Essentially, I want you to feel more in control of your own life.

Psychological and treatment terminology can often become confusing. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy is often used interchangeably with cognitive therapy and behavior therapy, when in fact it is an integration of these two therapeutic approaches.

In brief, cognitive therapists believe that one's perceptions of situations are important in the development of negative emotional states. They find that negative emotions are created when the individual interprets situations with a negative bias. For example, depressed patients may hold a negative view of themselves, the world, and the future, which may cause or aggravate depressed mood.

Behavior therapists believe that problem behaviors and skill deficits cause and/or maintain emotional distress. They find that behavioral changes facilitate mood improvements. For instance, learning relaxation skills leads to alleviation of anxiety.

Both behavior therapy and cognitive therapy acknowledge the role of behavioral and cognitive factors, as well as that of biochemistry, in anxiety and depressive disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy integrates techniques of both views to facilitate optimal therapeutic change.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Basics. Though the specific techniques and interventions may differ depending upon the symptoms that are targeted for change, the following are fundamental characteristics of cognitive behavioral therapy.

spacer · Empirically-based. Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can be highly effective in the treatment of many clinical problems including depression and anxiety disorders.
· Goal-oriented. I will work with you to establish goals for treatment and will use these goals to monitor progress and to assess whether desired changes have been made.
· Problem-focused. Treatment is tailored to address concrete problems and to reduce specific symptoms. These vary for each person and may also change during the course of therapy.
· Collaborative. I will work with you to identify and understand your problems and to make changes in your life.
· Active. I will educate you about your problems and help you to understand potential underlying causes and solutions to them. You will be asked to work in between sessions, thinking about and practicing the techniques and strategies you learned in session. You are an agent, not an object of change.
· Homework. Given the active nature of cognitive-behavior therapy, homework is often assigned to facilitate and expedite the therapeutic process.

General Information about My Approach. Although cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy interventions are the primary techniques I will use to help you make changes in your life, I will work with you in a flexible and comprehensive manner to best meet your needs. For instance, it is often assumed that past experiences are not addressed in cognitive therapy. I believe that depending upon one's individual circumstances, it may be important to examine past events and relationships in order to understand how they may be currently impacting one's life. In addition, if indicated, I will discuss with you the possibility of supplementing your treatment with medication. I will provide referrals to experienced psychopharmacologists and work closely with the professional that you choose.

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