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Have you ever wished you could stop worrying incessantly about things you cannot change? Has excessive fear ever kept you from riding an elevator, leaving your house, or driving your car? Would you like to shake off feelings of sadness and depression? Do you have obsessive thoughts and behaviors? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone.

"People at any age can struggle with anxiety, depression, and obsessive thinking as well as other psychological conditions," says James D. Korman, PsyD, ACT. "Sometimes these problems occur as a result of a stressful life event such as the death of a loved one, illness, divorce, and job loss. But symptoms also can occur without explanation. They can happen once in a lifetime, they can come and go, and they can persist," he adds.

Whatever the reason for or duration of your symptoms, a practical treatment approach known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help!

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help treat:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Reactions to physical symptoms, including pain and fatigue
  • Irrational fears (phobias)
  • Sexual disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress
  • Worry

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
The basis of cognitive behavioral therapy is awareness that your thoughts and perceptions influence your feelings and behaviors. It is designed to help you evaluate and unlearn unhelpful reactions and replace them with helpful reactions. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you see situations realistically. It can help you respond to things practically and positively. It is ideal for learning coping techniques, positive communication, and healthy ways to resolve conflicts. For these reasons, cognitive behavioral therapy can help anyone better manage interactions with others as well as ordinary and extraordinary problems.

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves specific, practical, goal-oriented techniques to help you learn healthy ways to think, feel, and act. For example, if you are always afraid that bad things are going to happen to you or your loved ones, a therapist who is specially trained in cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn ways to think more realistically. He or she also can teach you to focus on the present instead of the future so that you won’t worry about things over which you have no control.

Between sessions, your therapist will likely ask you to practice certain techniques, read helpful information, and apply what you learn throughout all aspects of your life and interactions with others. 

In some cases, cognitive behavioral therapy is combined with medication such as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety drug (an anxiolytic); however, some patients find they no longer need medication after practicing and mastering effective cognitive techniques.

Cognitive behavioral therapy involves a limited number of sessions (10 to 20 in most cases)—an approach that encourages patients to make steady progress. It can be used to treat individuals, couples, families, and groups.

"The good news is that cognitive behavioral therapy is a highly successful, evidence-based form of psychotherapy," says Dr. Korman. "Cognitive behavioral therapy can be tailored to meet your particular needs, with consideration for your disorder or situation, severity and duration of your symptoms, level of stress, and the amount and kind of support you receive from family and friends." He emphasizes, "As you work through your issues, your therapist will help guide you every step of the way, answer your questions, alleviate your fears, and ensure that you are headed in a positive direction that will help improve the quality of your life."

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a skilled cognitive behavioral therapist, call Summit Health Behavioral Health at 908-277-8900.