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What is Cognitive Therapy?

Often clients are referred to my office to for Cognitive Therapy or Cognitive Behavioral (CBT).  Once they arrive at my office it is not uncommon for these clients to ask what CBT is. Having said that I thought it would be appropriate to write this blog to help educate clients.

Cognitive Therapy was pioneered by Dr Aaron T. Beck in the 1950’s and is the most widely used form of psychotherapy to date.  Cognitive Therapy can be used for a number of problems such as; depression, anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, eating disorders, stress, just to name a few.

What is Cognitive Therapy?  Well “cognitive” means the way we think or our thought process.  This includes our perception of how we view events in our lives and our historical experiences. It also includes our worldly knowledge, how we understand the world around us.

How is this model applied?  Typically the therapist and client would explore the client’s thoughts and beliefs attached to the mood, physical experiences, behaviors (hence the B in CBT), and historical experiences or events in our lives.  So what are the nuts and bolts of this concept? Cognitive therapy would suggest that our perception of a particular experience or event has a profound affect on our emotional, physiological and behavioral response to that event.  An example of this might be, you are waiting in the Doctor’s office.  Your appointment was at 10 a.m. but it is now 11 a.m.  Now you have a choice. If you believe that the Doctor is really busy this day and working hard to see patients you might grab a magazine read a few articles and wait until your name is called. However if you think the Doctor’s office overbooked and that this has put you out, you may complain, get agitated, angered, and fidgety and feel you mood changing.  Cognitive therapy helps clients challenge their way of thinking and subsequently changing their reaction to the thought or event thus improving mood.

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