What is Cognitive Therapy?

UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSIONwhat is cognitive therapy

Different times in our lives bring different challenges, and with challenge comes vulnerability. After all, we are only human. When the challenge feels insurmountable, our mood becomes down, energy and life satisfaction disappears and fears pre-occupy our minds.

Depression undermines feelings of self worth. Deeply depressed persons feel not only unloved and unloveable, but a burden to others. Feeling isolated and unsupported, it is no wonder why life becomes overwhelmingly difficult.

Besides affecting the quality of life, depression decreases productivity at work. One person described her life as if she was driving with the parking brake on, and not even realizing it.

Family life is not pleasant when someone is depressed. Teens become rebellious or withdrawn and irritable. Marital intimacy suffers; guilt and blame replaces love and understanding.

Even though we know depression and anxiety can be effectively treated, many people still avoid asking for psychological help. Often, knowing that other people have been successfully treated can be a motivator to seek help. Resistance to seeking help is common and needs careful and objective evaluation.


The patient wants quick relief from depressive symptoms, and Cognitive Therapy is designed to work in a brief period. If there is no positive response to treatment in 12 weeks, treatment is reviewed and alternatives are considered together. Your therapist will try to form a strong alliance with you, so that you feel you are not battling your depression alone. The Cognitive Therapist uses specialized techniques to treat the depression.

In Cognitive Therapy, we treat negative thoughts. These thoughts can attack the self (“I’m not good enough”), magnify past mistakes, or fill the mind with needless worries about the future. Together, the patient and therapist identify these automatic thoughts and replace them with more realistic thoughts. The patient will be asked to do work  at home, such as writing down thoughts and reactions or trying a new way to behave with others.

It is hard to stop feeling negatively when depression hits or anxious worry preoccupies the mind. Cognitive therapy gives patients a way to control the thoughts that come with negative feelings. With a changed way of looking at things, reality doesn’t seem as overwhelming. And since Cognitive Therapy is educational, patients learn ways that work for them to help cope with panic attacks and a sad mood.

Research has found that Cognitive Therapy can add to the benefit of receiving anti-depressant medication. However, it is not  for everyone and it should only be provided after a comprehensive diagnostic interview.

Computer-Based Cognitive Therapy A program called “Good Days Ahead” is available to my patients. The computer program provides simple and engaging exercises to help you learn how to battle negative thoughts that help maintain a depressed mood.