What is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) ?

Cognitive-behavioral_therapy (CBT) emphasizes an active equal participation and collaboration for both the therapist and patient. Other hallmarks of CBT include; setting tangible gradual goals based on each individuals values, session agendas, action oriented problem solving, an emphasis on the present and on between session exercises. For most problems CBT is short-term, lasting approximately twenty-four sessions (six months). Some patients may require longer term CBT to address underlying personality characteristics or more chronic and/or complex disorders. Cognitive-behavior therapy (sometimes referred to as just as cognitive therapy, i.e. CT) began as a practical post-war (1950’s) need to find short term effective psychological treatment. Clinicians such as, Joseph Wolpe MD, Albert Ellis PhD, Aaron Beck MD and numerous other researchers and clinicians have since contributed to the strategies and problems treated by CBT.

CBT has become the most thoroughly researched and most often recommended type of psychotherapy for depression, anxiety disorders and a wide range of other psychological problems. Always guided by scientifically proven effectiveness, Suffolk Cognitive-Behavioral continually incorporates the newest developments in CBT. The strategies of modern “third generation” CBT’s can compliment traditional CBT and may include, acceptance & mindfulness therapies (e.g., Such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

How does CBT work?
The primary focus of modern CBT is to help patients decrease their reliance on self-defeating habits (e.g. avoidance patterns, compulsions, passivity, impulsiveness, aggressiveness, etc) and re-learn more adaptive life enhancing ways to cope (gradual activity scheduling, pleasure planning, conflict resolution, assertiveness, active listening skills, mindfulness, hypothesis testing, distress tolerance, exposure, attention retraining, breathing retraining, etc). Cognitive and behavioral strategies complement each other, when an impasse is reached, change in one area can stimulate change in the other. Our thoughts can often contribute to rigid and ineffective behavior and therefore new ways of reacting to and/or relating to our thinking is an essential part of CBT. “Hypothesis tests” may be used to see how adaptive our thinking and behavior actually is. “Mindfulness” may be used to see thoughts for more of what they actually are and to help us accept living in the present. Perhaps most difficult of all, a commitment to action (traditionally called exposure or desensitization) is based on each patient’s individual values and is an essential part of CBT.

What is the outcome research for CBT?
An impressive amount of scientific research has repeatedly documented the powerful effectiveness of CBT. CBT has been shown to be as effective as medication for the treatment of some forms of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, long-term relapse rates are lower for individuals treated with CBT than on medication alone. CBT also works very well in combination with medication.

Can Medication be used with CBT?
Most scientific research has shown that CBT can often be as effective for most cases of Major Depression and most anxiety disorders. However, at times a very effective combination can also be combining medical treatment (psychiatric medication) to get some momentum started and simultaneously starting CBT to capitalize on learning new habits during this opportune time.

As a parent can I participate in my sons/daughters therapy?
Parent participation is decided upon on a case by case basis, however some degree of parent participation is generally typical of working with children and adolescents. This is especially true with young elementary & middle school children.


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Long Island Offices - 631–696-2896
Brooklyn Offices - 347-687-6353


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