Home \ About CUCARD \ What is CBT?

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, commonly referred to as CBT, is based on well-established principles supporting the notion that changing negative thinking patterns and reducing maladaptive behavior can have a beneficial effect in improving a person's emotions and behavior.

CBT is a goal-directed and semi-structured therapy, and involves a partnership between the patient and therapist. Together with the therapist, patients examine all factors that led up to and maintain a problem, including the reciprocal interaction of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with others, from family to friends and other people with whom they interact on a day-to-day basis. Patients are fully involved in treatment and engage with the therapist in setting short and long term goals, evaluating how treatment is working for them, and in moving forward in developing healthy and proactive behavior to engage in their daily lives.

What do CBT therapists do?

  • CBT therapists help clients develop coping skills that enable them to better manage their thoughts (that's the cognitive part) and their actions (that's the behavioral part).
  • CBT therapists recognize that those suffering from excessive anxiety tend to focus on and overestimate the frightening aspects while misinterpreting the ambiguous features of certain situations.  Through this process, therapists help clients gain a more realistic and helpful perspective in order to decrease their anxiety.
  • CBT therapists know that individuals with anxiety often avoid situations they fear, and that avoidance often makes things worse by both prolonging anxiety and creating problems through missed opportunities. Therefore, CBT therapists help the client overcome avoidance by gradually facing what is feared.

Does CBT work?

  • CBT has been extensively investigated in rigorous clinical trials and has demonstrated efficacy in treating anxiety and depression in children, adolescents and adults.
  • For many problems such as anxiety and depression, CBT has been found to be as effective as medication. CBT can be used alone or in conjunction with medication, depending on the severity and nature of each client's problem.

What can I expect during CBT?

  • Patients are first evaluated to obtain a thorough history and background information to better understand the nature of the difficulties.
  • Patients will also be asked to complete questionnaires.
  • A treatment plan is completed with the patient (and parents, as appropriate) to set goals and to monitor progress.
  • Treatment usually takes place on a weekly basis.
  • The number of sessions varies with the type of difficulties being treated.
  • Often patients will be asked to practice specific techniques in between sessions, as they are expected to be active participants in their own therapy.
  • Once the skills are learned and practiced, patients can keep using what they have learned in therapy to approach other problems in their life.

What is family-based cognitive behavioral therapy?

Results from research studies suggest that for some youth, family-based cognitive behavior therapy is recommended. In family-based cognitive behavioral therapy:

  • Both children and caregivers learn about how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected and how to challenge thoughts and behaviors to change negative patterns of relating to one another.
  • Families learn how to communicate their feelings and thoughts more effectively.
  • Parents learn how to support and encourage their child to face his or her fears and better manage anxiety.
  • Parents learn strategies to manage their child's anxiety without giving in to or accommodating their child's unrealistic fears.
  • Families learn problem solving strategies that increase adaptive coping and decrease maladaptive patterns such as avoidance.

What is cognitive behavioral group treatment?

Our group treatment programs offer state of the art cognitive behavioral therapy to children, adolescents and young adults coping with anxiety and related problems. Within the group format individuals learn how to manage their anxiety using cognitive behavioral strategies, while gaining support and encouragement from (and providing support and encouragement to) others who are coping with similar difficulties. All group therapy participants agree to confidentiality prior to the start of treatment.