Psychotherapy, a.k.a. Talk Therapy, helps people manage or treat their mental health concerns or emotional difficulties. Through a professional relationship, the client and psychotherapist work together to make adequate, satisfying, and productive adjustments to the client’s life.
In individual psychotherapy, client and therapist meet in a private room, typically once a week for about 50 minutes. Some clients stay in therapy only for a short while (six weeks to a few months) to get support through an immediate crisis or to target a specific concern. Other clients may choose to see their therapist for many months or even years, especially if they plan to address complex or lifelong issues.
Psychotherapy can be short-term (a few sessions), dealing with immediate issues, or long-term (months or years), dealing with longstanding and complex issues. The goals of treatment and arrangements for how often and how long to meet are planned jointly by the client and therapist.
Therapy can help people reflect on their behaviors, emotions, and thinking. Talking things out confidentially with a mental health professional can help individuals improve their insight and coping. It may be used in combination with medication, healthy lifestyle changes (sleep, exercise, nutrition, etc.), or other therapies and supports.
The beauty of modern day psychotherapy is that clients and therapists get to collaborate to build trust and identify goals for treatment. Therapy has come a long way from the stereotype of an old guy peering over his glasses at a person lying on a couch (these days most people sit upright.) It’s a space for exploring and creating possibilities to help create a life that is worth living.
Learn more about my therapy modalities by reading below:
“If I had a medical problem, such as trouble breathing, I would go to my doctor and ask for the treatment that research has shown to be the most effective. The same should hold true for emotional problems.” – Judith Beck
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that has been rigorously tested and found to be effective in clinical trials for a variety of mental health conditions. It’s very structured, focused on the present, and usually time-limited. In CBT, clients and therapists work together to solve problems and practice life skills. These might include identifying unhelpful thoughts running through your head or recognizing when you’re about to do something that will make you feel worse (and choosing to do something more helpful instead.)
Many therapists utilize CBT techniques while working with clients. As a certified CBT therapist through the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, it’s important for me to discuss the pros-and-cons of adherent CBT with my clients. A formal session of CBT looks like this:
- Mood Check – Your therapist will always ask you to determine how you’ve felt this week versus other weeks.
- Agenda Development – Throw everything the client and therapist want to discuss onto an agenda so we can make the best use of our time and make sure we cover everything we want to in the session.
- Bridge– Follow up on loose ends from the previous session, as well as how the Action Plan from last time worked out.
- Session Content – Tackling the issues and topics on the agenda, including assessing the accuracy of your thoughts and beliefs during stressful situations, looking at how your thoughts and feelings drive your behaviors, and developing new coping skills.
- Action Plan – Develop an action plan to help you cope with the coming week. This might include tracking data on a log, writing things out, or being proactive in other ways. If there are barriers in implementing the plan, we can address them the following session.
- Wrap Up– Review the whole of the session, in which client can give therapist feedback on what is working and what isn’t and both can check in on overall goals.
As a certified cognitive therapist, I’ve seen the structure of CBT really benefit many clients with a diverse range of concerns– including perfectionism, uncontrollable worry, flashbacks of past traumas, self-destructive habits, self-criticism, and unnecessary guilt. It’s a proactive and pragmatic modality. The focus on problem solving, developing an agenda, and addressing present needs can be very empowering for clients and carry through to in-depth therapy work. It’s also a really collaborative model that prioritizes what the client wants to get out of treatment.
Additional Reading on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The Academy of Cognitive Therapy trains and certifies cognitive therapists and was the entity that certified me in 2017. Their site has extensive information on the practice of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as a database of clinicians.
CBT Radio is a podcast for profesionals and consumers about all things CBT.
UCLA Bright Manual is a free CBT group therapy manual for providers to implement. This program is a part of the Community Partners of Care Initiative at the UCLA Semel Center for Health Services and Society.
-WILD LILY THERAPY – MARISSA LEE LCSW CA BBS 77551-