Dr. Toni McMillan, Ph.D.,
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Founding Fellow, Academy of Cognitive Therapy
Specializing in Clinical Therapy for Children, Adolescents & Adults
Cognitive therapy is a significant breakthrough in treatment and prevention of depression and anxiety. Developed by Aaron T. Beck, M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, it is a short-term, problem-focused approach which can produce rapid symptomatic improvement and increase people’s control over their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Cognitive therapy has received wide support as an effective evidence-based treatment for depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, and others. In addition, studies indicate that cognitive therapy reduces symptoms of depression as rapidly as antidepressant medication and results in a much lower relapse rate.
HOW COGNITIVE THERAPY WORKS
Cognitive therapy views emotional problems as influenced by negative or extreme thought patterns. These patterns have become so habitual that they are experienced as automatic and go unnoticed by the individual. While in treatment, patients are taught how to uncover these negative patterns and how to replace them with more adaptive ways of viewing life events. Through this process, patients learn self-help techniques that can produce rapid symptom shifts, solve current life problems, and improve self-esteem.
ADVANTAGES OF COGNITIVE THERAPY
Cognitive therapy includes a variety of features which accelerate the process of change. Four of the most effective features include:
- The cognitive therapist Actively Directs patients to the discovery of central thinking problems.
- The cognitive therapist engages patients as active participants via therapeutic Homework.
- Cognitive therapy focuses on the resolution of Current, Specific Problems.
- The cognitive therapist engages collaboratively with the client and regularly asks for feedback.