My practice of psychotherapy is guided by a cognitive-behavioral theoretical orientation. In my cognitive-behavioral treatment, I incorporate key psychoanalytical principles such as addressing patients’ avoidance or psychological defenses, exploring emotions and fantasies, identifying recurring themes or patterns, and discussing the therapy relationship. It is my experience that the exclusive use of pure CBT methods such as teaching skills and strategies or assigning homework can only produce limited results. I believe all clients should be able to speak freely, in addition to learning practical exercises or new skills; that they should be able to explore their feelings in depth, instead of focusing solely on their thoughts; that they should examine how past and present are interrelated, instead of focusing only on current events. By combining CBT and psychoanalysis I seek to address root problems and current circumstance, so that my clients may begin to feel better immediately while obtaining lasting results.

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in hundreds of clinical trials for many different disorders. In contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, CBT is usually more focused on the present, more time-limited, and
more problem-solving oriented. In addition, patients learn specific skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. These skills involve identifying distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.

What’s the theory behind CBT?

CBT is based on the cognitive model: the way we perceive situations influences how we feel emotionally. For example, one person reading this website might think, “Wow! This sounds good, it’s just what I’ve always been looking for!” and feels happy. Another person reading this information might think, “Well, this sounds good but I don’t think I can do it.” This person feels sad and discouraged. So it is not a situation that directly affects how people feel emotionally, but rather, their thoughts in that situation. When people are in distress, their perspective is often inaccurate and their thoughts may be unrealistic. CBT helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral change.

Does CBT work?

To achieve good results with CBT, an important first step is to set goals. Ask yourself, “How would I like to be different by the end of therapy?” Think specifically about changes you’d like to make at work, at home, in your relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and others. Think about what symptoms have been bothering you and which you’d like to decrease or eliminate. Think about other areas that would improve your life: pursuing spiritual, intellectual, cultural interests; increasing exercise; decreasing bad habits; learning new interpersonal skills; improving management skills at work or at home. Your therapist will help you develop a goal list and decide which goals you might be able to work toward on your own and which ones you might want to work on in therapy.

How does CBT work?

At each therapy session, cognitive behavioral therapists help patients specify the problems they have encountered during the week or that they expect to encounter in the current week. They then collect data to identify the ideas and behaviors that have interfered with patients’ ability to solve problems themselves. Cognitive behavioral therapists get patients actively engaged in deciding where to start working. Together, they develop an “action plan” or homework for patients (to do during the week) to implement solutions to problems or to make changes in their thinking and actions. This process gets
patients actively involved in their own treatment; they begin to recognize that the way to get better is to make small changes in how they think and what they do every day. When treatment ends, patients are able to use the skills and tools they have learned in therapy in their day-to-day lives.

What about meds?

Many patients are treated without medication at all. Some disorders, however, respond better to a combination of medication and cognitive therapy. If you are on medication, or would like to be on medication, you might want to discuss with your therapist whether you should have a psychiatric consultation with a specialist (a psychopharmacologist) to ensure that you are on the right kind and dosage of medication. If you are not on medication and do not want to be on medication, you and your therapist might assess, after four to six weeks, how much you’ve progressed and determine whether you might want a psychiatric consultation at that time to obtain more information about medication.

Does CBT work fast?

One way to make CBT work faster is to ask your therapist how you might be able to supplement your psychotherapy with cognitive therapy readings, workbooks, client pamphlets, etc. A second way is to prepare for each session, thinking about what you learned in the previous session and jotting down what you want to discuss in the next session. A third way to maximize therapy is to make sure that you try to bring the therapy session into your everyday life. Therapists should make sure you take home notes or a recording of anything you want to remember, both changes in your thinking and an action plan to follow during the week. Many patients notice a decrease in their symptoms within a few weeks of therapy, or even sooner, if they have been faithfully attending sessions and doing the suggested assignments between sessions on a daily basis.

How does Dr. Z do CBT?

In my cognitive-behavioral treatment, I incorporate key psychoanalytical principles such as addressing patients’ avoidance or psychological defenses, exploring emotions and fantasies, identifying recurring themes or patterns, and discussing the therapy relationship. It is my experience that the exclusive use of pure CBT methods such as teaching skills and strategies or assigning homework can only produce limited results. I believe all clients should be able to speak freely, in addition to learning practical exercises or new skills; that they should be able to explore their feelings in depth, instead of focusing solely on their thoughts; that they should examine how past and present are interrelated, instead of focusing only on current events. By combining CBT and psychoanalysis I seek to address root problems and current circumstance, so that my clients may begin to feel better immediately while obtaining lasting results.

Get Help With Psychotherapy

To make an appointment with Dr. Z, call (678) 554-5632 or fill out the online appointment request. We can go over your current situation, identify the ways in which psychotherapy can help with the symptoms that are affecting your life and your loved ones', or help with current conflicts or low functioning that are impairing important relationships. We will put some dimensions to the problem, and identify your current resources that may be applied toward meaningful and lasting change. If additional resources and skills are needed, we will treat your severe symptoms with CBT and help you feel calmer and increase your ability to choose the most appropriate response to each situation. Treating symptoms with CBT is feasible, it's proven to be effective, and has helped many people who had a variety of different symptoms and challenges. Call and make your appointment today and we can get started!

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