HOW DOES COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY WORK?
Counseling or psychotherapy includes a wide range of approaches ranging from simple advice giving and listening (counseling), to learning specific coping techniques to cope with depression and anxiety (cognitive therapy), to learning
how to relate and connect to people more effectively. (Interpersonal or Relational Psychoanalysis)
Cognitive therapy is a therapeutic approach, shown to be highly effective for symptoms reduction for a wide range of disorders, including depression or anxiety. As of 2006, more than 325 studies have found high effectiveness for cognitive behavioral therapy for various disorders.
In cognitive therapy, individuals develop awareness of their thoughts, and change their relationships with those thoughts, either arguing with them, or otherwise learning not to take troubling thoughts too seriously. In my approach to cognitive therapy, I teach patients to learn to question their self-critical or pessimistic thoughts about themselves and their world.
Contemporary cognitive therapy teaches individuals to gradually more specifically understand their depression or anxiety symptoms, including the triggers of the symptoms, beliefs about the symptoms, and behaviors, especially avoidance, which aggravate their symptoms.
Ultimately, the goal of cognitive therapy is to teach you to change your reaction to your depression or anxiety-inducing thoughts. I have conducted several cognitive therapy research studies of depression focusing on patient’s specific values, as well as written a book in that area.
What is important in both cognitive therapy and psychoanalysis is the gradually acquired ability to remain in the present moment, relinquishing avoidance strategies and fully engaging with emotions as they come and go. Learning to stay in the present moment means developing MINDFULNESS. This process is taught during both cognitive therapy and relational psychoanalysis. Most individuals find that the challenge of staying in the present moment is a very daunting affair. I have called this present moment the “sacrament of the present moment” to suggest that it requires a commitment of our heart and our spirituality to fully accept this challenge.