What CBT is
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an active and goal-oriented therapy. It builds more workable patterns of behavior so you have better ways of responding to unhelpful thoughts and uncomfortable feelings. CBT helps develop greater awareness of thoughts, feelings, and actions; create improved coping skills; and more clearly specify goal.
As an evidenced based approach, cognitive behavior therapy has been shown to be effective for many different presenting issues including anxiety, OCD, problems with sleep, and other behavioral issues. It has also been shown to be effective with children, adolescents, and adults.
CBT is different from traditional talk therapy in a few meaningful ways. It is present and future focused, goal-oriented, and entails active practice of new behaviors and skills. With CBT, you are expected to put effort into practicing what is learned during appointments on your own between sessions. The more effort you put into practicing on your own, the faster you will be able to reach the goals you have set.
Length of CBT
Even though many empirical studies have successfully conducted cognitive behavior therapy in as little as 6 weeks, it can be difficult to guarantee this time frame due to several human factors in our growingly chaotic lives. This center has successfully graduated clients within a few months and up to a few years.
The length of time your therapy will take depends on several different factors, including
- the number of goals you have, and how complex and/or deeply rooted the issues are,
- how motivated you are to change,
- how well you follow through with practice between sessions, and
- the frequency and duration of your sessions.
How Therapy Progresses
Cognitive behavior therapy has three main phases.
Phase 1: Assessment and Psychoeducation
Your therapy will begin with a thorough assessment of the presenting issues, diagnosing (if necessary), and goal setting. In order to fully and correctly address the problem(s), your therapist will need to take time to understand how they show up for you, personally. During this time, your therapist will also provide ample psychoeducation about your presenting problems, CBT, the human mind, and human behavior. The length of this phase is typically 1 to 3 sessions. However, it can take up to several weeks if the presenting issues are very complex or undefined, your goals are uncertain, and/or you prefer your sessions to be less structured.
Phase 2: Active Phase of Therapy
During this phase of therapy, you and your therapist will collaboratively create a treatment plan based on your presenting issues and desired goals. You will be invited to experiment with and try various types of new behaviors, ways of talking to yourself, and techniques for better understanding yourself and your circumstances. You will also be expected to practice these new skills on your own between sessions in order to better reinforce the learning. This phase takes up the bulk of your therapy, and can take several weeks or several months.
Phase 3: Relapse Prevention and Termination
This phase of therapy focuses on consolidating all the learning done throughout your journey. Your therapist will discuss with you how to prevent backsliding, and what to do if you begin to struggle with using your tools on your own. Termination, or ending therapy, can occur whenever you want. However, it is best done when you have reached your therapeutic goals and feel confident in your ability to manage difficult situations on your own.
When Therapy Ends
While you may end your therapeutic journey at any time you choose, your therapist will look for certain markers to help determine when you may be most ready to end therapy.
- The symptoms and distress that were present at the start of therapy have significantly decreased.
- You are feeling more confident in your ability to manage difficult situations and have demonstrated an ability to recover well after distress.
- You have met your therapy goals.