Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) With “Soul”
My therapeutic approach can be best described as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with “Soul.” Put another way, I utilize a humanistic approach to helping my clients understand the interrelationship of their thoughts, feelings and behavior. My goal is to assist my clients in developing their ability to solve their problems by being able to think in a flexible, open manner instead of a rigid, fixed one.
What Is CBT?
CBT is concerned with the link between one’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. The basic premise is that your thoughts produce emotional responses (feelings), which then determine how you will behave in any given situation. By examining and understanding your own thoughts and underlying assumptions (called belief systems), you can then begin to understand why you do what you do. The emphasis is very much on the here and now; the past is examined only to the extent necessary to understand current behavior. Using techniques such as recording your thoughts, feelings and behaviors in certain situations, you begin to enhance your self-awareness. You will start to see patterns of behavior and then begin to think how you might do things differently. And by converting these ideas into small behavioral “experiments” you can begin to experience how thinking differently can create different and more positive outcomes in your life.
Because it works! It is one of the only (if not the only) therapeutic approaches that has been proven to be effective in numerous scientific studies. (Because the stated goal of CBT is to change behavior, it’s effects can be measured.) It has been proven to be effective for chronic conditions such as depression, anxiety, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), PTSD (post-traumatic shock disorder), panic attacks and phobias, as well as situational crises, such as loss of a loved one, divorce, job loss, etc.
Why the addition of “soul”? Because I have found that the practice of pure CBT can be somewhat cold and impersonal and is not suited for every client in its purest form. Since I believe that effective therapy contains elements of both science and art, and it is a process that takes place between two or more humans, the human part of the process should never be relegated to secondary status. That is why I personalize my approach to suit the needs of each individual client, since I do not believe in the “one-size-fits-all” approach to therapy.
Preparing for Change – Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Like any other methodology, CBT has some limitations. CBT can only be effective if the client is sufficiently motivated to change. Since not everyone enters therapy at the same level of readiness with respect to real change, I supplement CBT with a fairly new therapeutic modality called Motivational Interviewing (MI). Originally developed by clinicians working with alcoholics (a notoriously resistant population when it comes to accepting the need for meaningful change), MI views the change process as consisting of a number of stages. The thrust of MI is to determine at what stage of the change process an individual currently is and then to assist them in progressing through the remaining stages, with the ultimate goal being the formulation and implementation of a real plan of action. The key is to treat resistance as a natural occurrence and work with it, instead of viewing it as a failure of will on the part of the client.
In addition, I also utilize aspects of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), which stresses emotional regulation and mindfulness, and more traditional psychodynamic techniques, such as object relations, for those clients who want to explore their past more fully. With some clients, gaining a deeper insight into their earlier experiences in life can be of invaluable assistance in helping to create positive change.
The ultimate goal – Real and Lasting Change
Ultimately, I believe that therapy is about actively engaging clients in the process of envisioning and making new choices, which is the basis for lasting change. By examining one’s thought processes and underlying belief systems, new ways of approaching and solving problems begin to reveal themselves. With the proper guidance, support and motivation it has been my experience that in most cases significant change can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time.