Fortunately, depression is a treatable disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an empirically-validated psychotherapy that is recommended as a first-line treatment for depression in the VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Depressive Disorder (2009). CBT is a structured, short-term, present-oriented approach to psychotherapy that helps patients modify unhelpful patterns of thinking and behavior in order to resolve current problems.
CBT generally includes three broad phases: an initial phase, a middle phase, and an ending phase. During the initial phase the therapist assesses both the patient’s motivation and expectations for treatment. During the middle phase cognitive and behavioral strategies are implemented to help address the patient’s unhelpful thoughts and/or behaviors. The ending phase of CBT generally includes an emphasis on relapse prevention and a plan for termination.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most used tools in the psychologist’s toolbox. It’s based on a fairly simple idea which, when put into practice, can have wildly positive outcomes.
This form of therapy is not designed for lifelong participation but focuses more on helping clients meet their goals in the near future. Most CBT treatment regimens last from five to ten months, with one 50 to 60-minute session per week.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a hands-on approach that requires both the therapist and the client to be invested in the process and willing to actively participate. The therapist and client work together as a team to identify the problems the client is facing, come up with new strategies for addressing them, and thinking up positive solutions (Martin, 2016).
A therapist helps you identify negative or false thoughts and replace those thoughts with healthier, more realistic ones. For example, you might feel worthless or believe that your life is bad and will only get worse. Or you might obsess over your flaws and shortcomings.
Medication works well to treat anxiety and depression. If you also get CBT, your treatment might work even better and the benefits might last longer. Most people who get CBT for depression or anxiety continue to keep using the skills they learned in therapy a year later.
If you are on medication for depression, never stop taking it without talking to your doctor first, even if you’re working with a CBT therapist. If you quit suddenly, it can cause severe depression and other problems.
Dr Anton Kruger is a Clinical Psychologist and Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. He can be reach online if you would like to book a skype consultation.