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Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in hundreds of clinical trials for many different disorders. In contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy is usually more focused on the present, more time-limited, and more problem-solving oriented. In addition, people learn specific skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. These skills involve identifying distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.

What is the theory behind CBT?

At each therapy session, you will be encouraged to specify the challenges you have encountered during the week or that you expect to encounter in the current week. The therapist will then collect data to identify the ideas and behaviors that have interfered with your ability to solve problems themselves. Cognitive behavior therapists get patients actively engaged in deciding where to start working. Together, we will develop an “action  plan” or homework (to do during the week) to implement solutions to problems or to make changes in thinking and actions. This process is designed to get you actively involved in the treatment process; you will begin to recognize that the way to get better is to make small changes in how you think and what you do every day. When treatment ends, you will be able to use the skills and tools learned in therapy in day-to-day life.

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavior therapy is based on the cognitive model: the way we perceive situations influences how we feel emotionally. For example, one person reading this website might think, "Wow! This sounds good, it's just what I've always been looking for!" and feels happy. Another person reading this information might think, "Well, this sounds good but I don't think I can do it." This person feels sad and discouraged. So it is not a situation that directly affects how people feel emotionally, but rather, their thoughts in that situation. When people are in distress, their perspective is often inaccurate and their thoughts may be unrealistic. Cognitive behavior therapy helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral change.

Chair to Chair Counseling

What can I do to prepare for my first CBT session?

An important first step is to set goals. Ask yourself, "How would I like to be different by the end of therapy?" Think specifically about changes you'd like to make at work, at home, in your relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and others. Think about what symptoms have been bothering you and which you'd like to decrease or eliminate. Think about other areas that would improve your life: pursuing spiritual/intellectual/cultural interests, increasing exercise, decreasing bad habits, learning new interpersonal skills, improving management skills at work or at home. At the initial session, you will be encouraged to develop a goal list and decide which goals you might be able to work toward on your own and which ones you might want to work on in therapy. The process will be collaborative in nature. 

Where the Focus is Only on Your Best Self

How does CBT help clients become their own therapists?