Maybe you are thinking about going to therapy. So you do a search on the Internet for information and you come across one of the more popular types of therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). During your search you find that much of the information is vague and non-descript. In frustration you find the same generic information either cut and pasted or rewritten for the masses on various mental health sites. You find the basics, however cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a combination of two therapies including: cognitive therapy (focusing on helping the patient change their irrational or dysfunctional thought patterns) and behavioral therapy (focusing on changing maladaptive actions and behaviors). "Great," you may wonder. "So how does this help me?" You also find that the literature proclaims this type of therapy as effective for treating a multitude of mental health conditions. Yet in many cases you aren’t shown the studies or research to back up these claims.
Will CBT be an effective treatment for you? The answer is: It all depends. There are many factors which impact on the usefulness or functionality of any mental health treatment. In this post I am going to discuss why there is no clear consensus on what cognitive behavioral therapy entails. In addition, I will list some of the potential reasons why CBT or some variations of CBT may not be an effective treatment for some people.
When someone uses the term “CBT” can we be certain of what they mean?
One of the problems in assessing whether or not CBT is an effective treatment for you is the fact that when people write about this type of therapy they usually speak in very general terms. Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D.Director of the Social Anxiety Institute has this to say about CBT:
The specifics or details of CBT are not universally applicable. This has been a thorny issue for professionals who do not really understand what cognitive-behavioral therapy involves. With the advent of managed care, the insurance companies now want therapists who say they can do "cognitive-behavioral" or "solution-focused" therapy. So, in order to be included in these groups and panels, professionals now will usually say they do "cognitive-behavioral therapy".
The insurance companies like CBT so much so that quite often they will not pay for any other type of therapy. The reason they like it so much? CBT is usually short-term and costs less than psychodynamic or interpersonal type therapies. But what does it mean when a therapist says he or she does CBT? You may have to ask the individual therapist as there are a wide variety of ways this therapy may be interpreted and used.
For example, here are just some of the off-shoot varieties of cognitive behavioral therapies offered. If you read any of the descriptions you will see that these methodologies can be extremely different from one another but still under the umbrella of CBT.