reasoning and erroneous interpretations, we become,
in truth, blind and deaf.
- Aaron Beck
email DrSooHoo@sequoiacounselingoc.com phone 949.337.1034 mailing address 340 E. 1st St. #291, Tustin, CA 92781 Sequoia Counseling & Wellness Services OC offers virtual teletherapy services for California Residents
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is considered the “Gold Standard of Psychotherapy” and started in the 1960s with Beck and Ellis. This treatment model proposes that unhelpful or irrational thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives result in undesired feelings and moods. Consistent with the medical model, a goal of CBT is symptom relief and restored functioning. This model focuses on the teaching and practice of adaptive skills that lead to problem solving. Due to the nature of this brief treatment, CBT is present focused and typically does not explore and address distant past events.
CBT has a strong research foundation with hundreds of studies reviewing treatment effectiveness completed since the 2000s (Hofmann, et al., 2012). Among available treatment approaches, CBT has the strongest research support for treatment of:
Anger control problems
It is also widely used for treatment of:
Depression & persistent depression (dysthymia)
Distress due to general medical conditions
Chronic pain and fatigue
Not all people who come to therapy have a clinical diagnosis. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can also be used for performance enhancement or personal growth needs:
managing emotions to improve performance in sports, performing arts, or public speaking
Here are a couple of sample applications: Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Over the years, Sara developed the habit of worrying about too much about too many things that it began to affect her mood and her relationships. Her cognitive behavioral therapist worked with her to shift her thoughts from focusing mostly on negative information (fuel for her worries) to focus on her behaviors. Her cognitive behavioral therapist explored her underlying motivations for this habit and provided alternative thoughts and behaviors to begin helping her worry less.
Chronic Low Back Pain: James suffers from moderate low back pain. While it’s not debilitating, it is strong enough to affect his motivation to do work, chores, and go out with friends. His cognitive behavioral therapist who has training in pain psychology educates him about the direct relationship between his stress levels and pain levels. His therapist also works with him to develop personal strategies to increase his activities without increasing his pain levels.
"Do I need psychotropic (antidepressant) medication?" The short answer is “it depends.” If your symptoms are moderate to severe, persistent or chronic, or you are going through some particularly difficult life circumstances, medication might be recommended. Research often shows the benefits of chemical re-balancing via antidepressants in combination with CBT treatment where the patient can learn techniques and strategies to change their functioning and prevent relapse. For psychological conditions that include a behavioral component, such as phobias and panic attacks, CBT and exposure therapy are the first line of treatment, ahead of antidepressants alone. In general, fast acting medications, such as benzodiazepines or sedative hypnotics, are used conservatively, if at all, as a routine treatment option. If you are thinking about medication, I would recommend consulting with your physician or a psychiatrist.
"Is this the treatment for me?" CBT works well for people who prefer a structured and symptom focused treatment approach. A typical course of CBT treatment lasts at least 8-10 weekly sessions. Homework assignments are a characteristic feature to support practice of skills and learning. CBT works well for alleviating symptoms quickly with the plan for patients to self-manage as needed after they have left therapy.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call or send me a note. I look forward to hearing from you ! - Dr. Melissa Soo Hoo
reach out now to learn how sequoia counseling and wellness services can partner with you to live a happier, healthier life!