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What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (also known as CBT) is a widely used type of psychotherapy focused on the relationship between our thoughts, actions and emotions. In clinical studies, it has shown to be effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, trauma and many related problems. Is it for you? 


Let’s try an experiment. Take a moment to notice whatever emotion you are feeling at this moment: happy, mad, sad, scared, content. Now, I want you to focus on that emotion and change it to a different emotion. That’s it, just switch to another. Is it easy? Usually not. If you were able to switch your emotions, you probably thought of, or did, something to help change to another emotion. That experiment is CBT at work. 


CBT is focused on the impact our thoughts, actions and emotions have on each other. While emotions are difficult to simply change, by making changes to any one of these three components, we can generate improvement in the others. 


CBT-based treatments are “evidence-based,” meaning careful research has shown they are very effective in the treatment of specific problems and common psychological difficulties. Consider it this way: You wouldn’t take a medication that had not been proven to work for your high blood pressure just because someone said it might help. You’d want to know it was tested and compared to other types of medication and shown to work before taking it. As with treatment for your physical health, you wouldn’t want to invest your time and money into treatment for your mental health that has not been evaluated in the same way. Additionally, for some problems, CBT has been shown to be more effective than taking medication alone. For others, it has been shown to be equally effective.  













What is it like to DO cognitive-behavioral therapy?


  • CBT is collaborative. As the client, you are the expert on you. Your provider is the expert on the treatment. Together you and your provider work together to discuss what you’d like to change, set achievable goals for treatment, and get to work achieving that change. As you apply what you’ve learned in treatment, your provider works to support you and holds your accountable. 


  • CBT is active. As emphasized above, CBT is something you DO. Your provider is there to listen, guide treatment and teach skills. You are responsible for implementing that change.  Success in treatment is similar to a work out plan – you can talk about exercising once a week, but doing the exercise is what brings about change. 


  • CBT is present-focused. Treatment is focused primarily on the problems you are experiencing in your daily life. While current difficulties may be rooted in the past and are relevant to treatment, CBT does not require extensive time spent focused on your childhood.


  • CBT is skill-based. CBT has an emphasis on problem-solving and helps people address anxiety, depression, anger and other difficulties by teaching them skills. It can feel very practical and that makes it accessible for many. For example, treatment for someone coping with uncontrollable worry may focus on recognizing and addressing thoughts that trigger feelings of panic. Skills are used to directly address difficulties and meet treatment goals. The more a client is able to improve at a skill, the better the overall results of treatment.  


  • CBT is time-limited. CBT is considered a short-term therapy with most treatments lasting between 10 and 20 sessions. The goal of therapy is not to be in therapy forever, but to work hard and see improvement. The length of treatment is determined by several factors, including the problem being addressed, the severity of that problem and how hard a client works in treatment. You should finish treatment having met the goals mutually agreed upon with your provider with a new set of skills to tackle any issues that may arise. 


What types of difficulties can be treated with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is used to treat a variety of emotional and behavioral difficulties. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Anger Management

  • Anxiety Disorders (phobias, social Anxiety, panic attacks, uncontrollable worry)

  • Chronic illness/pain

  • Depression 

  • Drug and alcohol overuse

  • End of life concerns

  • Life transitions 

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 

  • Procrastination 

  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic experiences 

  • Relationship issues

  • Self-esteem 


What types of Cognitive-Behavioral treatments does Dr. Fontenot provide? 

Dr. Fontenot specializes in the provision of the following evidence-based treatments for specific disorders. These treatments include, but are not limited to: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression and Anxiety, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (also known as ACT), Exposure Therapy for phobias and panic, Exposure and Response Prevention for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and both Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy for the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Based on treatment goals, additional evidence-based skills may be applied in treatment. 


More information regarding cognitive behavioral therapy can be found within the blog section this website as well as on the website for the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies:

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