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Introduction to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
By: Daniel Levi, LCPC, LPC

What Is Cognitive Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy directed at current issues and based on the idea that the way an individual thinks and feels affects the way he or she behaves. In other words, all feelings come from thoughts whether we are aware of them or not! Feelings in turn lead to reactions or choices -- wanted or unwanted.

Our focus is on problem solving, and the goal is to guide our client to learn how to change their thought patterns in order to change their reactions and responses to challenging situations.

A CBT approach can be applied to a wide range of mental health issues and conditions including depression, anxiety, relationship issues, OCD, manic mood states, loss, trauma and much more.  

When It's Used

CBT is appropriate for children, adolescents, and adults and for individuals, families, and couples. Research has shown that CBT can be highly or moderately effective in the treatment of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, general stress, anger issues, panic disorders, agoraphobia, social phobia, eating disorders, marital difficulties, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and childhood anxiety and depressive disorders. CBT may also be effective as an intervention for chronic pain conditions and associated distress.

What to Expect

In CBT you will first learn to identify painful and upsetting thoughts you have about current problems and to determine whether or not these thoughts are helping you. If these thoughts are unhelpful, you will learn skills that help you change your thinking patterns so they are more useful with respect to a given situation. Once you have reframed your thought, you can take a look at automatic pilot responses (honk! honk!) and choose a new, more helpful course of action. Normally we will give you “homework” to do between sessions. That work may include exercises that will help you learn to apply the skills and solutions you come up with in therapy to the way you think and act in your day-to-day life.

How It Works

CBT integrates behavioral theories and cognitive theories to conclude that the way people perceive a situation determines their reaction more than the actual reality of the situation does. When a person is distressed or discouraged, his or her view of an experience may not be realistic. Changing the way clients think and see the world can change their responses to circumstances. CBT is rooted in the present, so the therapist will initially ask clients what is going on in their mind at that moment, so as to identify distressing thoughts and feelings. The therapist will then explore whether or not these thoughts and feelings are productive or even valid. The goal of CBT is to get clients actively involved in their own treatment plan so they understand that the way to improve their lives is to adjust their thinking and their approach to everyday situations.

Mind Martial Arts (MMA)

Mind Martial Arts is our specialized cognitive therapy program we often use with teenagers and sometimes adults who have been bullied or have a strong inner bully. Mind martial arts using principles and techniques from cognitive therapy, schema therapy, ACT, and DBT to train our clients how to be a mind martial artist -- self defense with good boundaries defense and strikes against unwanted verbal and emotional attacks

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