What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT? You’ve likely heard the common buzzword before. You have likely also seen the words “evidence-based” with it. This has probably led you to think CBT is the best and most effective form of therapy. I am here to break both of these buzzwords down for you.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a therapeutic theory that is centered on the connection between thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Therefore, a CBT-oriented therapist may spend sessions teaching skills in order to reduce problematic symptoms. This may involve teaching you about thoughts that are cognitive distortions and how to reframe them. Additionally, the therapist may help you look at the evidence for various unhelpful thoughts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very popular due to its prescriptive nature. Insurance companies LOVE this type of therapy because it says here is the problem and here are the steps to resolve the problem. This fits very seamlessly with the medical model. The problem is that human beings are not as straightforward as treating the common cold or flu.
On the other hand, I am not saying CBT is not effective or a good treatment option. My purpose here is to shed light on how it is not the ONLY effective method out there.
Now I want to talk about what “evidence-based” means. It means what it says: enough research studies have deemed it to be effective. However, there are so many evidence-based treatment methods out there that do not get the lime light like CBT.
So how did CBT become so synonymous with evidence-based? It’s what I stated earlier, insurance companies! These companies are still very behind in understanding mental health so they are using the template for treating disease to make sense of it.
For some, this may be what they are looking for and that it totally valid! However, this does not fit with my worldview of change. I see you! Not a diagnosis, disease, or list of criteria.
What This Means in My Work
I am not against CBT by any means! In fact, I use CBT exercises with clients but the basis from which I view change. The way a therapist views change is crucial in the effectiveness of their work. Not only this, but it is also important that a therapist knows how to explain this view of change. Being able to describe this means that your therapist has a sense for WHY the methods they use in sessions will be helpful.
First, I need to explain how I believe human problems develop. When I say problems, I mean the problems that lead someone to seek counseling. I believe that problems develop from a lack of unconditional positive regard. This means that a person is only accepted by their loved ones if they meet a standard that is harsh, unclear, and inconsistent.
Conditional acceptance is the opposite of unconditional positive regard. Here are some examples of what conditional acceptance might entail:
A teenage girl who only hears “you are beautiful” by their family and friends when they have lost weight. A second example might be a young boy who is given praise by their father for “acting tough” yet is criticized for crying. These are just a few examples. Can you think of any?
Furthermore, I believe that humans can move towards change when they spend time in a room with someone who offers acceptance without conditions. That is what I strive to provide in my therapeutic relationships. I believe with unconditional acceptance, a person can quiet the noise of criticism and access tools towards a better future.
Relating Back to CBT
Now back to the topic of CBT. Again, I do not have anything against this theory. I am here to say that CBT is not the only evidence-based theory out there. What’s important in your counseling treatment is that your counselor can explain how they view change and the development of problems. This is the WHY behind their work.
Insurance companies care very little about the WHY behind a therapist’s work. They want to know WHAT you are doing and HOW LONG they have to pay for it. CBT has just been one of the best at appealing to the model that insurance wants. I feel that this often comes at the expense of seeing people as people.
Who am I?
So what does this mean for me?
I am what is called a person-centered therapist. The way I view change is centered on unconditional positive regard and problems develop from conditional acceptance. This is an evidence-based approach that I have years of evidence to support how it leads to self-acceptance and self-love.
Want to be more than symptoms?
Book a session with me today! Let my office be your place for unconditional acceptance.