“Wonderful. Dr Alloway allows me to speak my mind, she doesn’t misunderstand me when I bring up problems I’m having and she’s an actual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy user. I’ve gone through several other therapists who say they are CBT users when in practice they are not. She has been helping me for over six months and I recommend her to everyone who is looking for a down to earth therapist they can converse with, who can help to improve their quality of life and mindset, and is a good person.”
K.C. • Client
“What a great place. It has really helped someone I care about.”
“Dr. Alloway is a wonderful clinician. She is very experienced, understands a wide variety of diagnosis and very accessible for clients. Dr. Alloway clearly cares for people and is very understanding. I highly recommend her as a therapist.”
Rachel Holtz, PA• Medication Prescriber
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What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
What we do (our behavior) and how we feel is heavily influenced by the ways we think (cognition). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a solution-based approach to changing the ways we think and behave. Too often we are caught up in the feeling and react reflexively. CBT helps us examine our inner life (thoughts in our mind) and find out why we do what we do. We can’t change what we don’t admit.
Event: Your spouse comes home and doesn’t say “hello,” what do you think?
Thought #1: “They are too busy to say hello because they don’t care;” or
Thought #2: They didn’t say hello because they didn’t see me or they were preoccupied.
If you tell yourself thought #1 – you may feel disappointed, hurt, or scared (do they not love me anymore? Do they want a divorce? etc.
If you tell yourself thought #2 – you may feel nothing different and go on about your day.
Takeaway: Thoughts influence emotions which influence behavior. If you think #1, you may be snappy or irritated by your spouse’s behavior and possibly start an argument; whereas, if you think #2, you may be content and continue to treat them in a loving way as you normally do.
Your CBT therapist will help you identify your “automatic thoughts” and help you challenge irrational beliefs so that you are telling yourself the right thing. This will help you be in a positive and content mood and live your life to the fullest!
The way we think about the world is usually as a reflex. We experience a trigger and have a thought in response. That thought then makes us feel a certain way, so we change our behavior. Here are a few examples of putting this idea into practice.
EXAMPLE 1: Catastrophizing
EVENT: You get a call from your sister asking to pick your niece up from school.
THOUGHT: “I was in a car crash last summer; what if I get into another car accident??”
BEHAVIOR: You decline the request to help your sister and she is disappointed in you.
EXAMPLE 2: Mindreading
EVENT: You best friend walks by you and doesn’t say “Hi!”
THOUGHT: “She is upset with me and didn’t say Hi on purpose.”
FEELING: Sadness / Worry
BEHAVIOR: Go home and eat a pint of ice cream.
Overtime, negative feelings (i.e, fear, sadness, frustration) may take hold and you find yourself hiding from the world and not living a fulfilling life!
CBT Uses Neuroplasticity
The big idea behind CBT is the idea that our brains can physically change as we challenge our negative thoughts. This concept is called neuroplasticity. It can be unnerving to know that the way our brains are today may not be the same 5 years in the future, but it is also liberating. This tells us that many of the negative thoughts that we have are “only for now”, and can be overcome. Learn more about neuroplasticity here:
In short, our brains are incredibly adaptable and powerful! We at the Center for Personal Growth can help you tap into that. We can change the brain, just as medications do (see the graph at the top of the page), and train ourselves to think logically and rationally and therefore not make ourselves upset.
What is CBT Used to Treat?
As also illustrated in the graph at the top of the page, CBT is effective for treating the following conditions:
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Substance Use disorders
How Should I Prepare for CBT at the Center for Personal Growth?
Set Goals. Identify what results you want from therapy. Examples include:
I want to be less anxious so I can be around people and make more friends.
I want to decrease my depression so I can get out of bed and start my day.
I want to grieve for a relationship that just ended and learn what I can do next time so the relationship can be successful.
I am unhappy in my job, should I make a career change?
My parents are too protective and I feel smothered, what can I do?
My teen is using drugs and alcohol and I am afraid for them. What should I do?
I want to be the best version of myself!
Approach therapy as a partnership. Therapy is most effective when you’re an active participant and share in decision-making. Make sure you and your therapist agree about the major issues and how to tackle them. Together, you can set goals and assess progress over time.
At the Center for Personal Growth, you can use your first sessions to see if the therapist is a good fit for you. If you don’t like working with one therapist, no worries, we have a few therapists that may suit you better.
Be open and honest. Success with therapy depends on your willingness to share your thoughts, feelings and experiences, and on being open to new insights and ways of doing things. If you’re reluctant to talk about certain things because of painful emotions, embarrassment or fears about your therapist’s reaction, let your therapist know about your reservations.
Remember that therapeutic services at the Center for Personal Growth are completely confidential, and we are trained to listen. We value your privacy and work very hard to protect it. So tell us everything that may help, you may be surprised by what helps your journey.
Stick to your treatment plan. If you feel down or have a lack of motivation, it may be tempting to skip therapy sessions but doing so can disrupt your progress. We recommend that you attend all sessions so that you can push through your fears and learn a more healthy way of responding to challenging events.
Don’t expect instant results. Working on emotional issues can be painful and often requires hard work. It’s not uncommon to feel worse during the initial part of therapy as you begin to confront past traumas and current unresolved conflicts. You may need several sessions before you begin to see improvement in mood and behavior.
Do your therapy assignments between sessions. Doing these therapy assignments will help you apply what you’ve learned in the therapy sessions in practical ways to see the benefits of behaving differently.
If therapy isn’t helping, talk to your therapist. If you don’t feel that you’re benefiting from CBT after several sessions, talk to your therapist about it. You and your therapist may decide to make some changes or try a different approach.
Therapy is a two-way street, if you have any concerns with the therapist or the therapy approach, bring it up with us. We can adjust our approach or we can help you switch therapists if need be.