What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Dr. Danda’s uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as her primary treatment approach. CBT examines how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected, how they influence each other, and how they impact a person's symptoms, functioning, and quality of life.

Treatment consists of education and specific strategies to modify each of those areas in order to manage emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms more effectively. Education is a key starting point. When people understand the processes that lead to emotions and behaviors that interfere with life, they are better equipped to apply strategies they learn. Even young children (along with parental help and reinforcement) can learn how to identify unhelpful ways of thinking, lessen the intensity of strong emotions, and change what they do and how they respond to situations to feel better.  CBT focuses on actively teaching sets of skills that individuals and families learn to use on their own."Homework" is assigned in between sessions to practice strategies learned and generalize to real life.  

Although CBT is the primary approach, Dr. Danda is familiar with other therapeutic approaches and incorporates them into her work with clients when beneficial to the treatment process.

Important features of CBT

  • Despite being structured and goal-oriented in nature, CBT is a flexible, individualized approach that can be adapted to a range of clinical populations.
  • Research studies and clinical trials provide support for the effectiveness and use of CBT for a wide range of problems, including anxiety disorders, depression, behavior problems, and health conditions (see an example of how CBT can help children with pain conditions).
  • CBT is typically short-term. It focuses on resolving immediate problems and builds skills towards long-term health.
    • CBT is not based on insight or understanding, but measurable change.
    • Change is often seen in brief amounts of time.
  • CBT is an active and collaborative approach.
    • Between-sessions "homework" is usually assigned to facilitate progress.
    • The therapist’s role is to listen, teach, and encourage, while your role is to express concerns, learn, and implement that learning.
    • You are taught to be your own therapist.
  • CBT is compatible with other treatments (e.g. pharmacotherapy, supportive psychotherapy).
  • CBT is more than "just talking" and more than "positive thinking."