CBT for Adults
How can I benefit from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can help you understand the thoughts and feelings that influence your behaviors and is particularly effective helping people change thoughts, feelings and behaviors that result in depression and anxiety.
What should I expect?
During your first few sessions, your therapist will typically gather information about you and determine what concerns you’d like to work on in order to determine the best course of action.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy generally focuses on specific problems, using a goal-oriented approach. As you go through the therapy process, your therapist will ask you to do “homework” — activities, reading or practices that build on what you learn during your regular therapy sessions — and encourage you to apply what you’re learning in your daily life.
Steps in cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy typically includes these steps:
Identify troubling situations or conditions in your life. These may include such issues as a medical condition, divorce, grief, anger or symptoms of a mental illness. You and your therapist may spend some time deciding what problems and goals you want to focus on.
Become aware of your thoughts, emotions and beliefs about these situations or conditions. Once you’ve identified the problems you want to work on, your therapist will encourage you to share your thoughts about them. This may include observing what you tell yourself about an experience (your “self-talk”), your interpretation of the meaning of a situation, and your beliefs about yourself, other people and events. Your therapist may suggest that you keep a journal of your thoughts.
Identify negative or inaccurate thinking. To help you recognize patterns of thinking and behavior that may be contributing to your problem, your therapist may ask you to pay attention to your physical, emotional and behavioral responses in different situations.
Challenge negative or inaccurate thinking. Your therapist will likely encourage you to ask yourself whether your view of a situation is based on fact or on an inaccurate perception of what’s going on. This step can be difficult. You may have long-standing ways of thinking about your life and yourself. With practice, helpful thinking and behavior patterns will become a habit and won’t take as much effort.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is generally considered short-term therapy — about 10 to 20 sessions. You and your therapist can discuss how many sessions may be right for you. Factors to consider include:
- The type of disorder or situation
- The severity of your symptoms
- How long you have had your symptoms or have been dealing with your situation
- How quickly you make progress
- How much stress you’re experiencing
- How much support you receive from family members and other people