How Long Will the Treatment Last?
Cognitive behavior therapy is efficient psychotherapy. While it is often called “short term”, the actual length of treatment will vary. Factors such as problem severity and complexity, as well as the effort you put into it, will affect the length of treatment. While many problems are successfully treated in one to two months, a duration of six to twelve months is more typical.
How often will I need to come in?
Cognitive behavior therapy involves phases of assessment/self study, skills training, treatment/skills application and maintenance. The recommended frequency of sessions varies with each phase. Assessment, training and treatment require more face-to-face contact with a therapist, typically one to two times per week. Intensive CBT is a “crash course” during which extended meetings of at least 90 minutes in length occur daily over a period of several weeks. The maintenance phase, which emphasizes sustaining improvements through independent practice, involves less frequent therapist contact. Meetings typically occur twice per month, then monthly, and then taper off completely.
How Will I Know if the Treatment is Working?
Ongoing emphasis is placed on monitoring your progress in therapy. Objective improvement measures, like questionnaires and checklists, your therapists experienced judgment, as well as you’re subjective impressions, are used. Results of these assessments also help to fine-tune your treatment plan to ensure that you and your therapist are doing everything possible to efficiently generate lasting improvement.
When is Medication Used?
Studies show that cognitive-behavior therapy is as effective as medication in the treatment of anxiety, panic, worry, and depression. At mild to moderate levels of severity, evidence shows that medication may be unnecessary. However, clinical wisdom suggests that more severe or prolonged problems may best be treated with a combination of cognitive-behavior therapy and medication. You and your therapist will discuss these issues as needed, and you will be the ultimate judge of works best for you. Evidence shows that for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, medication is typically required.
Is Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Compatible with Traditional Psychotherapy?
In the same sense that one sees a “specialist” for help with a specific medical problem, while remaining under the care of his or her general practitioner, clients who are involved in ongoing traditional therapy will often benefit from a course of CBT.