Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy FAQ

Does it Work?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is supported by large amounts of research to be highly effective for a wide range of disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, child behavior disorders and many types of problems.

How is Cognitive-behavioral therapy different from other types of therapy?

It is considered a more structured type of therapy. It actively seeks to teach strategies to modify thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The particular techniques taught are carefully selected to address a particular problem.  One focus may be on modifying negative thinking (perceptions of situations and beliefs) that lead to distressing feelings and behavior. An important idea is that many problems are caused by faulty learning (of emotions and behavior) and the goal is to "unlearn" these reactions. Another focus which is highly effective for treating many anxiety disorders is "exposure therapy" which involves gradually learning to decrease avoidance and face anxiety-provoking situations. 

What is the relationship between therapist and client?

A key way that this type of therapy achieves goals is through a warm, collaborative relationship between therapist and client. Goals are chosen together and strategies modified through frequent communication about progress.

How quickly will it work?

This type of therapy actively focuses on present problems with the goal of symptom relief and behavior modification. Research suggests that in many cases it can rapidly lead to symptom relief. Each person is different and duration of treatment can vary by client. One important way that this type of therapy seeks to speed-up progress is through the assignment of "homework" - assigned practice of strategies in-between each session.

Will my progress in therapy last?

The goal of this type of therapy is to make sure each client learns strategies to maintain progress over time. Through "psychoeducation" clients are taught how the problem developed, how to treat the problem and how to maintain gains in treatment over time. Assigned "homework" practice allows for mastery of skills over time. For child clients, parents are taught behavior modification strategies to help maintain positive behavior over time.

Can this therapy work for children?

Research suggests children as young as ages 7-8 can get results with this therapy. For younger ages, there are many effective ways that therapy can be modified to enhance learning of effective strategies with parental support.

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