“Behavior therapy has given me the tools to recognize and fight unhealthy thoughts and actions. I’ve been using it for years and would recommend it to anyone seeking to develop a more positive view of themselves or the world.” -L
Cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) work from the assumption that thoughts lead to feelings and behaviors, so by changing your thoughts, you can change your life. CBT focuses on identifying thought and behavior patterns that aren’t working and then changing those patterns to shift emotional responses and behavior.
CBT is skills-based and action-oriented, meaning that clients and their therapists identify realistic solutions to decrease the symptoms of specific mental health problems. Clinicians at Viva often encourage clients to use their skills for safety and stabilization when they feel overwhelmed or out of control.
This form of therapy focuses on problems as they present themselves, and therefore is more rooted in the present and narrower in scope. Though core issues may be identified, CBT focuses on observing what the issues are and shifting one’s response to them, as opposed to resolving the core beliefs themselves (which is more the territory of psychodynamic therapy). All Viva therapists who use cognitive behavior therapies also integrate methods to address core issues that are the root of your current symptoms.
There are several therapies that are based on the principles of CBT but vary in the skills offered and the approach.
Dialectical-Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT incorporates the teaching of cognitive behavior skills to individuals who experience emotional dysregulation. It helps clients improve their emotion regulation, distress-tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, mindful awareness, and aspects of their emotional reactions. Its name comes from the use of dialectics to challenge responses and strategies that aren’t working. By developing an understanding of what triggers certain reactions, clients can make profound shifts in how they interact with their environment, which then results in a shift in the nature of their environment. You can learn more about DBT here.
DBT is an evidence based treatment for borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, complex trauma and for individuals with self-harming behaviors, suicidal ideation, addictions, eating disorders and other behaviors related to impulsivity and dysregulation.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is a “third-wave” cognitive and behavior therapy. Like classic CBT, it assumes that anxiety and depression can be treated by teaching skills to shift thinking and behavior. It uses a combination of classic CBT strategies with newer skills and thinking strategies. You can learn more about those here.
Even as a “newer” therapy, it’s still been around for 35 years, and there is extensive research showing its efficacy with a number of populations.
CBT and its derivatives are among the most researched treatments in psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavior therapies been found to be an effective form of treatment for almost every category of mental health disturbance: anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, complicated grief, substance abuse, trauma recovery, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.