The theoretical orientation I tend to use with clients is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This orientation addresses not only the individual’s cognitions but also the behavioral component that is continuously being reinforced by their thoughts, which are shaped by core beliefs about the world. I believe that in order to decrease or stabilize symptoms, you have to focus on a person’s thoughts, beliefs, attitudes as well as their behavior. For example, we can examine the individual’s symptoms associated with anxiety by paying close attention to the behavior but to address these symptoms fully, we have to know why this person is reacting the way they do. This requires an understanding of underlying core beliefs, intermediate beliefs and automatic thoughts, as defined by Aaron Beck.

As we know, irritational thoughts can be tested when the client is presented with challenges that do not coincide with our beliefs or the way we think. CBT further explores these thoughts and beliefs that are controlling our behavior in maladaptive ways. In other words, CBT works as a system to identify the faulty wiring (cognitions) that produces an unpleasant output (maladaptive behavior). In order to restore function, we have to look at challenging core beliefs. I provide each client with some information about what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is and how effective it can be to treat various symptoms and disorders.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has a multitude of benefits for clients other than just treating symptoms. CBT includes the client in their treatment by holding them accountable for completing assignments given by the clinician. The assignments can empower the client as they are in control of carrying out the assignment as well as seeing how much they are able to change a specific behavior. When assignments are not complete, the therapist and client can explore obstacles which may be interfering with task completion. The assignments or homework given by the clinician allows the client to see the progression or regression. Another benefit of using CBT is the commitment of the therapist and client working together in a therapeutic relationship. The therapist and client can identify the cognitive distortions and maladaptive behaviors and formulate a plan together to produce healthy thoughts, feelings and behavior. The client becomes more aware of his/her thoughts and feelings that may impact behavior in a negative manner, which allows the client to proactively and more constructively address future challenges.