Your success matters.

We will use proven therapeutic techniques to make progress at a pace that feels comfortable and sustainable for you.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a therapy treatment based on the concept that our thoughts influence our feelings, our feelings influence our actions, and our actions influence our results (or the life circumstances we end up in). 

In other words, CBT asserts that situations don’t make us feel or think certain ways. People don’t make us feel or think certain ways. Rather, it's how we interpret or think about (or obsess about) situations or the things that people say & do that most strongly influences how we feel and what we do next. 

CBT proposes that it happens like this: we experience some kind of event or trigger, and then we have thoughts about it or interpretations of it. Then that will lead to a certain type of emotional experience and also determine the intensity of that emotional experience…..which then leads to some sort or response from us.

 

It looks like this: 

 

Something happens 

We think about and interpret what happened

We feel something about that interpretation

We act on

(or don’t act on)

our interpretation

Some examples of how this can look in real life:

My friend doesn't call

I think... 

“my friend is mad at me”

I feel...

sad and ashamed and lonely

I avoid everyone.

The neighbor lets his dog poop on my lawn

I think... 

“he’s a rude jerk

I feel...

angry and disrespected

I go outside and start yelling at him

CBT is a highly effective and well-researched form of treatment. It's used to treat a wide variety of issues and concerns that we face as humans (worry thoughts, sleep difficulties, sadness, hopelessness, traumatic reactions, panic attacks, social avoidance, substance misuse/abuse....the list is long).

 

CBT involves looking at the links between our thoughts, our emotions, and our behaviors and then identifying ways to modify the links when they are not helpful. In CBT, you will look at the specific thoughts and thought patterns that occur frequently for you. These thoughts and patterns are typically a result of your upbringing, your experiences, and your world circumstances. In therapy, you will identify ways to notice your thought patterns and then to change those thoughts that do not help you.

 

An underlying theme in CBT is that our perception of a situation is typically creating a more negative impact on us than the actual situation itself. In CBT, we look for ways to shift perceptions towards more factual accuracy. This usually leads to a decrease in symptoms and an increase in our ability to solve the problems we face.

CBT is a combination of the many types of therapies that came before it. Often Albert Ellis and Aaron T. Beck are credited as the "fathers" of this treatment, although it is an accumulation of many styles and methods dating all the way back to Stoicism in 3rd century BC. 

Set up a free consultation to discuss what we can achieve for you with CBT via online counseling!

What will CBT do for me?

CBT will increase your ability to notice unhelpful thought patterns and replace them with more accurate and helpful thoughts.

 

CBT can reduce your worries, decrease your sadness and lack of hope, improve your self-esteem, improve your interactions with others, make it easier to sleep, and make it possible to enjoy daily moments again (or for the first time). 

CBT has been found to be highly effective for many people dealing with a wide range of struggles and works well with all ages and life situations.

CBT helps you learn to recognize your patterns. 


As a therapy model, CBT focuses on helping you understand this pattern relative to your own life circumstances and your patterns of reaction so that you can better control the outcomes in the way that you would like.

 

It is important to note that the patterns you may be currently "stuck" in make sense. They have served a purpose for you at points in your life and may even have been modeled to you by caregivers or other figures in your life.

It is also important to recognize that often we don’t get to choose the events that happen to us. We may have some control over where we place ourselves and what events we are exposed to, but generally when things happen to us, the part that we do have control over is all the next steps....the next thoughts, the next feelings, the next actions. 

CBT is not about thinking positively. 

 

CBT is about acknowledging that however we choose to perceive a situation will lead us to an outcome inside of us and typically influence the next steps we take. If we can identify thoughts that will help us with our next steps, then we are in a place of empowerment. Thoughts can start to go from "He's not calling me back, I'm such a loser and no one likes me" to "He's not calling me back, but I do remember that I do have other people who want me around."

CBT exposes your unhealthy thought patterns (we all have them).  

 

CBT also takes a look at your patterns of maladaptive, unhealthy, or distorted thoughts. Thought patterns such as:

  • ​black-and-white thinking (I always get stuck in traffic)  

  • mind reading (I know my boss is disappointed in me)

  • fortune-telling (I’m sure she’s going to break up with me tomorrow)

  • catastrophizing (If I don't get an A, I will never graduate and then I will never get a job and I will end up homeless)

 

These patterns of unhealthy thinking make it even more challenging to respond to upsetting events. In CBT therapy, you and the therapist will explore your particular maladaptive thought patterns (yes, we all have them) and help you learn ways to untwist yourself from them effectively.

CBT uses Cognitive Restructuring.  

 

The process of recognizing your thought patterns and untwisting from them (over and over, with guided practice) is called cognitive restructuring in the clinical world. Once you and your therapist identify some faulty core beliefs (ex. "I am a failure", "I am damaged") and identify the distorted thought patterns that your brain uses to confirm that faulty core belief, the real work of restructuring your self-talk begins.

 

At this stage, CBT treatment for you may also include a focus on self-esteem, healthy communication strategies, stress management tools, how to create boundaries in relationships, options for managing mood swings, and problem-solving skills. 

Is CBT the right therapy treatment for me?  

CBT looks differently for everyone and is effective for a wide range of concerns, such as constant worry, depressed mood, frequent anger, struggles in relationships at home or work, feeling stuck, sleep difficulty, and performance anxiety, to name a few.

 

CBT is the treatment model with the greatest body of research supporting its success. If you are truly ready to make some change in your life, it can be a great fit. CBT has been around since the 1960s and scholars who contributed heavily to CBT as we know it today are Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, and David Burns. 

But will CBT actually work? 


A few key elements to having positive outcomes in your life with CBT:

  • your willingness to be open and honest with a therapist, even when it's hard;

  • your willingness to do some homework assignments & practice activities between sessions; 

  • your willingness to trust a therapist to be on your side as you do the difficult work of untwisting your thoughts. 

To put it in a plain comparison, if you want to feel healthier and lose some weight but you aren't honest with your gym trainer about the 2 glazed donuts you have every morning and you aren't exercising as agreed between your weekly appointments, and you don't believe that your trainer's guidance can truly lead to your success....it will be tough to see the lasting change you are hoping to see for yourself.   

What would it take to get started with CBT?

 

If CBT seems like it could be a good fit for what you are going through or you would like to explore what therapy might look like for you and your life, I would love to offer you a free consultation to explore that.

 

I am thoroughly trained and experienced in CBT. When you are ready, you can begin the process towards feeling better in your daily life...and you can do it without even going to an office.

 

Online CBT counseling makes CBT accessible to you wherever you are!

 

Set up a free consultation to discuss what we can achieve for you with CBT via online counseling!

"Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
― Albert Einstein

(919) 744-8335

heather@mckenziecounseling.org

all areas of North Carolina, United States​

© 2017 Heather M. McKenzie, Therapist LPC PLLC