What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most well-researched psychotherapeutic approaches in the field of mental health. CBT therapists include psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, counselors, and marriage and family therapists. A cognitive behavioral therapist will be more active and directive during therapy sessions compared to therapists who espouse other approaches (e.g., psychodynamic). The term “collaborative empiricism” is used to describe the therapeutic approach in that client and therapist work together in exploring new ways to gain insight and ultimately act in one’s life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for a wide variety or mental health issues including:
How to Choose a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
When searching for a therapist or counselor, first and foremost it is important to find a professional with whom you feel comfortable sharing personal information and can quickly establish good rapport. After that, it is important that your therapist is well-versed in the particular approach(es) they utilize. Here are some things to look for and questions to ask when searching for a good cognitive behavioral therapist:
- Ask the therapist or counselor to share the cognitive-behavioral formulation of your presenting concern (e.g., anxiety, depression, etc.). A good cognitive behavioral therapist will be able to provide a clear, concise framework explaining how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors interact to produce and maintain your symptoms.
- Inquire about training and education. Every therapist and counselor learned about cognitive behavioral therapy in graduate school but that does not mean they have learned how to provide cognitive behavioral therapy. Inquire about your potential therapist’s training and direct experience providing CBT.
- Ask about the treatment structure. Most cognitive behavioral therapies are structured and time-limited and include clearly defined treatment strategies and objectives. Ask questions regarding frequency and duration of sessions, session structure, and what between-session “homework” activities will be part of the treatment process.
- Discuss with your therapist how progress will be measured and assessed. While not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that can be measured matters, cognitive behavioral therapists and counselors typically utilize empirically validated assessment and measurement tools to monitor treatment progress.