What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Anxiety, Depression, and other uncomfortable emotions can feel very overwhelming and can get in the way of a person living the life that he/she wants to live. They often cause people to feel helpless, hopeless, and out of control. That is where CBT comes in! CBT is an empirically supported approach to therapy that focuses on helping clients gain control over and feel empowered in the face of emotions and life challenges. The goal of treatment is for each client to become his/her own therapist, learning skills over the course of treatment that he/she will take with them and continue to apply them in their lives once treatment has ended.

What can CBT be helpful for?
While many studies have been conducted on the efficacy of CBT for treating anxiety and mood disorders (among many others), CBT skills are helpful, effective tools that anyone can benefit from during life’s normal ups and down and have even been shown to prevent larger problems from occuring.
What will therapy look like?
Therapy looks different for adults and for children.

For adults, the usual setup is that the client and therapist meet for weekly sessions in which both the client and therapist are active participants. The client should expect to gain a better sense of what he/she is going through and learn effective strategies for addressing the difficult areas in his/her life. Most weeks there will be some sort of “home” assignment, to help the client practice and generalize the work that was done in session. Once the client believes that he/she has mastery over the approach, has achieved a decrease in symptoms, and feels ready, the therapist and client will meet less often until he/she feels ready to end treatment.

For children, the goal of educating the client and teaching strategies to help him/her help him/herself remains paramount, but the involvement of others outside of the client is something that differentiates child therapy from adult work. Due to children’s difficulty in retaining and applying the “tricks” that were covered, as well as their limited control over their environment, parents become co-coaches with the therapist to help ensure helpful changes outside of the office. Thus, sometimes parents and children will meet together with the therapist or sometimes the parent(s) will come in toward the end of session to hear what was covered and what the plan is for the coming week.

What if I want to start coming to therapy, but I’m not ready for assignments?
People come to treatment at different places and that’s okay. Some clients come to treatment raring to jump into behavioral work and some clients need some time to process what is going on for them and become more comfortable before they start any assignments. The goal of treatment is to be effective and treatment is tailored to meet each client’s needs.
How long is treatment?
The length of treatment will depend on the individual client, his/her needs, level of motivation, and commitment to therapy. The goal is to get the client to a healthier, more effective place as soon as possible. The average course of treatment runs between 8-20 sessions. Occasional maintenance (or “booster”) sessions can be helpful once treatment has been completed and some clients choose to stay on in treatment for more reinforcement of the skills, support, or further insight.
Does CBT work for everyone and for every problem?
CBT is one of the most effective therapies out there, but there is no guarantee of treatment outcome. If CBT will be helpful to a client, it is something that will probably be noticeable after a short number of sessions and clients are encouraged to discuss their thoughts about treatment with the therapist.
How can I get more information?
Feel free to send any confidential questions to Dr. Rubin by clicking here and Dr. Rubin will be happy to get back to you as soon as possible. For some, coming to therapy can seem scary and overwhelming, but you’ve taken the first step to helping yourself feel better. Congratulations.