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CBT and Solution-Focused Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you identify how your thinking influences how you feel and act. Cognitive distortions are certain ways of thinking that are distorted and inaccurate. These can lead to poor decision-making, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, guilt, and self-defeating behaviors. With CBT, we identify and change negative thought patterns and maladaptive behaviors, so that you can be more realistic and have a different, healthier perspective. CBT is structured, focused, directive, and based on your values and goals. It also involves homework sometimes, such as tracking your thoughts and acting towards your goals. CBT is also the gold standard for treatment of depression and anxiety and is empirically validated by many studies.

white man at desk thinking

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is future-oriented and goal oriented as well. We focus on your strengths, resources, past successes, and coping abilities. The main question is what I you already doing now that is making her situation better or preventing it from getting worse? SFBT emphasizes how you are or have been healthy, and how to regain that sense of health and well-being. Solution-Focused therapy concentrates on how you have successfully handled similar situations in the past, and always asks the question, "when is the problem not happening or when is it less upsetting?" This can be more empowering for you when you forget how resourceful you are.

In combination, I use the problem-solving aspect of CBT, identifying faulty thinking, with finding exceptions to those times when your thinking was distorted or inaccurate. For example, if you tend to have all or nothing thinking, especially around work or school, you can first identify the automatic negative thought. Then we can explore times when you resisted the urge to think this way. What was different at those times; how did you overcome that ingrained habit?

I find that both ways of doing talk therapy are very effective. At times I combine them so that you get the most from your therapy. It’s easy to think of yourself as broken or damaged when you feel traumatized, anxious, depressed, grief stricken, or perpetually angry. With the combination of CBT and SFBT, we can discover how you are resilient and stronger than you think, as well as what patterns hold you back from having a wonderful life.

I also use elements of other types of therapy that blend mindfulness, body awareness. I individualize the treatment for what you want and need. If you have trouble with regulating your emotions, I might teach use them dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills as well.

With younger clients (preteens and adolescents), I also do play therapy and art therapy which allows them to express their distress nonverbally. I have found these expressive approaches effective for adults as well, especially if you are more feeling- than thinking-based.

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