Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques are effective for eliminating depression anger, anxiety, low self-esteem and impulse control behaviors: drugs, alcohol gambling, sex, food, shoplifting and more. The techniques are based on the premise that our thoughts determine our emotions, which then determines our attitudes and our actions.

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These thoughts, attitudes and beliefs are about ourselves, our relationships with others (living or dead) and the world around us. According to the Cognitive Behavioral Modal we’ve established this thinking very early in our childhood, but it’s not necessary to dwell on the deep dark issues of our past.

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, what’s going on in the present is what’s important, because here is where the problem lies. Of course we talk about the past, but we don't dwell on it. We work on the issue, handle the problems, learn new coping strategies and a new way of thinking about the situation and move on.

According to this model, which was pioneered by Dr. Aaron Beck, the client learns to identify his/her negativity and gets techniques on how they think differently about a situation.....and when you change your thinking, you also change your feelings as well as your behavior.

You learn how to confront the same issues in a new empowering way.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not a long process.

Unlike psychoanalysis, which can take many years to see results, (think Woody Allen here) with Cognitive Behavioral therapy you can see results almost immediately. Your new way of thinking also becomes automatic.

This is not about developing  'positive thinking', it’s about learning new strategies and becoming empowered. And this new way of thinking will last for the rest of your life.

“ I had a client who came to me to address food and anger issues, and at the end of the session, she noticed my certificate from the Albert Ellis Institute in New York.” You studied with Albert Ellis?” she asked, “Wasn’t he a nasty old man?”

I thought of a film on Dr. Ellis that a saw in an undergrad psychology course, on the ‘gurus’ of psychology and yes, this man was rude, abrupt and truly outrageous, but he was a genius.

Albert Ellis is the founder of Rational Emotive Therapy (RET). According to him, our feelings are the result of our beliefs and reactions to the events in our lives. When our beliefs are irrational, we think and behave likewise. So the game plan in RET is to confront your irrational beliefs and change them. RET is based on thinking and doing. Similar, but not the same as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In fact, Albert Ellis has been called the ‘grandfather of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy'. I assured my client that Dr Ellis was brilliant, but he not only intimidated his clients, he put fear in his graduate students as well. He demanded perfection and was intolerant of anything less.

I bring to mind one session, when he vented his frustration with a student telling her in front of all of the class, “You’re stupid. You'll do more harm than good. You should get out of this field.” She was stunned – and so were all of us. I know that I'd faint dead away, if he said that to me, but he didn’t. In fact,  he said absolutely nothing. He just winked - and I was elated. Coming from Dr. Albert Ellis, that wink said it all.

I'm very grateful to have had many great teachers, but learning from Dr. Albert Ellis was studying with a master."

I was also fortunate enough to do graduate work in the Adlerian model, founded by Alfred Adler. (Individual Psychology). Alfred Adler broke from Freud with his belief that true change results from identifying, exploring and changing mistaken goals and beliefs. Alfred Ellis was a student of Adlerian principles and based his model of RET from Adler.

So as you can see that I’m steeped in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  (CBT) – and have a wealth of other techniques, to help you overcome impulse control behaviors: anger, dysfunctional relationships, and all impulse control behaviors for: food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shop-lifting, gambling and codependency.

 Research has shown that CBT works best for the above issues. They are also effective for couples counseling, relationships and codependency. 

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So the next time you’re feeling down, think about what you’re saying to yourself and ask yourself for concrete proof.

Self Help Questions

• Have I had any experiences that show that this thought is completely true all the time?

• If my best friend or someone I loved had this thought, what would I tell them?

• If my best friend or someone who loves me knew I was thinking this thought, what would they say to me? What evidence would they point out that would suggest that my thoughts were not 100% true?

• When I am not feeling this way, do I think about this type of situation any differently? How?

• When I have felt this way in the past, what did I think about that helped me feel better?

• Have I been in this type of situation before? What happened? Is there anything different between this situation and previous ones? What have I learned from prior experiences that could help me now?

• Are there any small things that contradict my thoughts?

• Five years from now, if I look back at this situation, will I look at it any differently? Will I focus on any different part of my experience?

• Are there any strengths or positives in me or the situation? Will I look at it any differently?

• Are there any strengths or positives in me or the situation that I am ignoring?

• Am I blaming myself for something which I do not have complete control?

It’s helpful to print this page and put in a place where you can see it. They’re good reminders to change the way you feel.

(Source: Mind Over Mood by Greenberger and Padesky, The Guilford Press 1995.)

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