Author: Katie Bloom Leoni, Psy.D.
Often times people are referred to a specific kind of therapy but are unfamiliar with the different types of therapy and what they offer. The clinicians at SF Bay CBT practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as our main theoretical orientation. If you’re thinking about starting treatment with us, you might be wondering what that means, and what your treatment will look like. Read on for more information about the CBT model, which is the core of CBT.
The CBT model posits that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interrelated, and that by intervening to change one of these things we can change all three of them. The way we think about a situation impacts how we feel about it and how we behave in response to it. In CBT, we believe that sometimes the way we think is distorted, or inaccurate. This may be because of our unique upbringing, our life experiences, or our current mental health status. Thinking irrationally is natural and normal, but if we do it too often it can cause psychological distress. As CBT therapists, we work with clients to identify beliefs that are not serving them. We give them tools to evaluate their thoughts and modify those beliefs that are irrational or inaccurate. This can help reduce negative feelings and increase the likelihood of desirable behaviors.
In CBT we also intervene on a behavioral level. We know that when you’re feeling depressed or anxious, that tends to make you want to engage in behaviors that can actually make those symptoms worse. For example, if you’re feeling depressed, you might want to stay in bed or skip social events. While you might feel better momentarily, staying in bed is likely to generate more depressed thoughts, which will make your mood worse. In our work with clients, we work to identify behaviors that are maintaining problematic psychiatric symptoms, and work with clients to modify those behaviors to improve their mood.
The final component of the cognitive triad is feelings. In CBT, we don’t often try to intervene with feelings directly. That’s because, as you’ve probably noticed, simply telling someone to stop feeling their feeling isn’t helpful or effective. However, CBT therapists will teach you a few skills that can help you feel more confident managing big and overwhelming emotions. These skills might include mindfulness, breathing techniques, and problem-solving to help you realize that you have the tools to manage your emotions.
The above is an outline of how we use the cognitive model to treat your symptoms in a comprehensive way. If you are interested in learning more about how CBT can help you, please call us to schedule a free phone consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.
Image taken from: Oak Park Behavioral Medicine (http://www.opbmed.com/cbt.html)
Diana Gordon, Psy.D., Kari Kagan Psy.D., and Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
Drs. Gordon, Kagan, and Leoni practice psychotherapy in downtown San Francisco and Oakland. Their areas of expertise include anxiety, sleep, stress, depression, and addiction. They blog about these topics to provide research-based information about common problems and strategies to help manage them.