Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

One form of therapy that Houston Methodist psychiatric professionals have found to be successful for treating disorders including anxiety, panic and obsessive-compulsive disorder is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Unlike general counseling, CBT is an intensive and structured therapy focusing on changing the brain's responses to specific stressors, such as in cases of phobias or anxiety, rather than focusing on the stressors themselves. Another key difference of CBT from general counseling is that CBT most often begins by establishing a set timeframe for the completion of the therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) works with mental responses that are "automatic" in that they are the result of years of negative conditioning and self-conditioning and may not be immediately recognizable to the patient. Brain imaging has recently shown that this form of therapy physically alters the brain by causing it to change the structure and function of its own neurotransmitters, using only its own thought processes to do so.
Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Techniques
Houston Methodist’s psychiatric staff uses specific CBT techniques when working with a patient:
  • Identify and replace negative mental messages with positive ones
  • Address self-defeating "what if" questions by making the patient ask different questions of themselves; in essence, questioning their own questions
  • Modifying behavior patterns by replacing destructive habits with helpful habits
  • Desensitization therapy; gradually exposing a patient to a situation or thing that makes them fearful (first by visualization, then in real life), while working on changing the fear response
  • Asking the patient to complete homework exercises between sessions, during which they work on applying techniques learned in therapy sessions to real-life situations