5 Reasons Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May Not Work for You

by Anne Windermere Patient Advocate

One of the problems in assessing whether or not CBT is an effective treatment for you is that when people write about this type of therapy they usually speak in very general terms. Insurance companies like CBT so much 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.

Your therapist may lack skill, experience and education about effective techniques

You cannot assume that just because a therapist says they are skilled at CBT does not automatically make them a good or effective therapist for you. Here the focus is not upon the methodology but upon the therapist’s skill set. Always check your therapist’s credentials and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their training and experience.

Sometimes cognitive behavior therapy stresses the therapy technique over the relationship between therapist and patient

One of the stated roadblocks to effective CBT is that some therapists will hammer away at the patient’s dysfunctional thoughts but pay little attention to the fact that this is a multi-dimensional person affected by emotions, social interactions, and biology.

CBT promotes assumptions which may be faulty

CBT instills the notion that your faulty or irrational thought patterns are responsible for maladaptive behavior and mental health problems. If one accepts this premise, then some practitioners may dismiss the other factors which play a part in mental illness such as genetics and biology. In addition, CBT often advices changing thought patterns.

CBT may not give you enough time to meet your goals

Insurance companies love CBT because it is generally considered brief therapy. In some cases CBT may be limited to as little as six to twelve sessions. Someone going in to be treated for depression who has early traumas, current social stressors, and a biological predisposition for a mood disorder is going to be all patched and ready to go in a few months? I would like to see that happen!

Certain CBT techniques may be ineffective for many types of mental disorders

In a landmark 2009 review published in the journal Psychological Medicine, the study authors concluded that: (CBT) is of no value in treating schizophrenia and has limited effect on depression. The authors also concluded that CBT is also ineffective in preventing relapses in bipolar disorder.

Anne Windermere
Meet Our Writer
Anne Windermere

These articles were written by a longtime HealthCentral community member who shared valuable insights from her experience living with multiple chronic health conditions. She used the pen name "Merely Me."