An electronic newsletter of the Coalition's Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery
The Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery provides assistance to the New York City mental health provider community through expert trainings, focused technical assistance, evaluation, information dissemination and special projects.
Elizabeth Saenger, PhD
In Cognitive Therapy for Beginners and Thieves, star clinician and educator Judith Beck, PhD, notes that regardless of our level of expertise, or theoretical orientation, many of us use techniques from cognitive therapy (aka cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT). This is not surprising, given that CBT is supported by more than 1,000 outcome studies.
However, we tend to restrict ourselves to CBT for depression and anxiety, two areas CBT addressed in its infancy. We thus miss applications of the treatment which experts have developed over the last thirty years to treat an empire of specific symptoms, disorders, and issues.
This new territory includes challenges faced by many clients, such as:
Before trying these techniques with your clients, however, you should read the fine print. Sleep deprivation from sleep restriction can precipitate mania in clients with bipolar disorder if not handled appropriately.
In short, CBT has expanded further into the province of recovery, where it has taken root, borne fruit, and promises a plentiful harvest.
Elizabeth Saenger, PhD
Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
Similarly, when I first heard about CBT, I thought it sounded like the common sense my mother used with me when I was a teenager. However, by the time I became a psychologist, I had respect for the wisdom in this evidence-based paradigm.
With age came an appreciation of how generic elements of CBT could be tailored to a variety of individuals:
Examine irrational thoughts by having the client list the situation in the first column, the client’s distorted interpretation of the situation in the second column, and alternative interpretations in the third column. Have your client estimate how likely these interpretations are. Discuss them. This technique helps people rationally evaluate the evidence against negative thoughts.
The opinions expressed in RECOVERe-works do not necessarily reflect the views of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies.
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