Areas of Expertise

Specializing in Anxiety Treatment, Depression, Interpersonal Relationship & Grief and Loss

Anxiety

Stress and Anxiety can take many forms, and as a result there are several different classifications of anxiety disorders, each with its own specialized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety treatment approach. There is overwhelming research showing that CBT is the most effective treatment for anxiety problems. Follow this link to a chart comparing the effectiveness of CBT to other treatments.

 

Social Anxiety/Social Phobia:  Excessive anxiety and stress about negative evaluations from others. This can be a fear of public speaking, anxiety and discomfort in casual conversations or at social functions, or a general fear that others might be looking at you. Click for more information about social anxiety treatment and diagnosis.

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):  Having recurring, intrusive thoughts that are anxiety-provoking or disturbing, and hard to control. It is sometimes accompanied by behaviors attempting to neutralize the stressful thoughts, such as repeating behaviors, hoarding, and ritualistic behavior.  This is frequently confused with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, with is not an anxiety disorder, but a personality disorder characterized by excessive perfectionism, conscientiousness, or need for control. Click for more information about  OCD Treatment and Diagnosis.

 

Panic Attacks:  Panic Attacks, which are sometimes referred to as anxiety attacks, are excessive anxiety responses that can include rapid heart rate, sweating, dizziness, hyperventilation, feelings of losing control, and other extreme manifestations of anxiety. Although panic attacks and anxiety attacks themselves are not harmful, people often develop excessive fears about panic symptoms (Panic Disorder), which can lead to problems such as avoidance of important responsibilities, anxiety about leaving the house (Agoraphobia), and increased panic attacks. 

 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):  An anxiety reaction to a past trauma that involves frequent intrusive memories or flashbacks of the trauma, avoidance of things that remind the person of the trauma, and an increased proneness to negative emotion. 

 

Phobia:  An excessive and irrational fear of specific things or places, triggering intense distress when in contact with the feared object.

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:  Persistent anxiety and worries about a number of different things that are difficult to control, and lead to a generally elevated state of anxiety and stress much of the time. This can manifest as increased stress about work, relationships, money, and others' judgments. 

 

Cognitive Behavioral Treatments for Anxiety Disorders are generally very effective, with up to 70-80% of people experiencing a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms after 8 to 20 sessions. 

 

Although CBT anxiety treatments vary by the specific problem, they usually contain some variation of the techniques below.

 

CBT TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY AND STRESS MAY INCLUDE:

  • Physical relaxation techniques

  • Assessment and re-evaluation of problematic ways of thinking

  • Mindfulness techniques

  • Gradual exposure to feared stimuli until there is a reduction in fear

  • Treatment for insomnia

  • Acceptance strategies

  • Problem solving strategies

Depression

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment designed to alter the damaging negative thought patterns you may have developed about yourself. The focus of CBT is to look at how your thoughts, emotions, and actions relate to each other, and how you behave as a result.

 

CBT is an effective way to help stop yourself from accepting any type of negative thought patterns that you may have fallen into and focus on recovering from your addiction or psychiatric disorder. You will be given the tools to better control your damaging thoughts and learn to navigate everyday challenges with improved coping skills.

 

How Does CBT Work?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is unique in that is an active therapy, meaning it requires an intense level of participation from both you and your therapist to help you learn and practice healthy coping skills and emotional responses. Your treatment may even require homework outside of therapy sessions.

Through CBT, you will learn to recognize when involuntary negative thoughts, or automatic thoughts, enter your mind and the triggers that bring them on. By doing this, you can learn to better prepare yourself for when you do get triggered and how to better handle your reactions and emotions to those events.

 

What Is the Evidence Behind CBT?

Studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be as effective in treating depression as prescription antidepressants are. Instead of simply removing the symptoms of the mental disorder as a medication endeavors to do, the focus of CBT is to remove the disorder by getting to its core and working through the root issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is used in treating a variety of mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, and anger management. CBT is also used in the treatment of phobias.

Relationships

Problems in communication involve problems listening, speaking, or both. Effective communication skills training can help people express themselves effectively, while minimizing negative reactions from the intended listener. This can be achieved by emphasizing the subjective nature of the speaker’s comments, expressing positives instead of negatives, and using validation to help disarm the listener and elicit empathy. Listening skills can help people truly understand the speaker, and help the speaker feel understood. This can involve active listening skills, attending, rephrasing, empathizing, validating, and inquiring.

This treatment can be helpful in numerous interpersonal situations, including family relationships, romantic partnerships, and co-worker interactions. It can be used in conjunction with treatments for anxiety and depression when ineffective interpersonal relationships are implicated. 

 

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is an empirically validated treatment for a variety of psychiatric disorders and is especially effective in treating people those with interpersonal challenge. The evidence for IPT also supports its use for a variety of affective disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, and for a wide range of patients from children and adolescents to the elderly.  The evidence base for IPT supports its use from age 9 to 99+. 

 

IPT is recognized as an efficacious psychotherapy by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK.  There are now over 250 empirical studies supporting the efficacy and effectiveness of IPT. IPT is a time-limited psychotherapy that focuses on interpersonal issues, which are understood to be a factor in the genesis and maintenance of psychological distress.  The targets of IPT are symptom resolution, improved interpersonal functioning, and increased social support.  Typical courses of IPT range from 6-20 sessions with provision for maintenance treatment as necessary.  The Defining Elements of IPT can best be understood by describing framework for its delivery.  This framework can be divided into the theoriessupporting IPT; the targets of IPT; the tactics of IPT (i.e., the concepts applied in the treatment); and the techniques of IPT (i.e., what the therapist says or does in the treatment).  Though individual elements in each of these categories may be shared with other psychotherapeutic approaches, their unique combination.

Relationships

My Approach

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is...

 In a nutshell, I use a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach that helps you learn to change your thoughts, feelings and behaviors so you feel better. By targeting your reactions to situations, CBT can help you react more effectively in challenging situations, and even learn to feel better when you are unable to change situations happening around you.

 

GOAL-ORIENTED

Unlike a lot of talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is a problem-solving therapy aimed at helping you achieve your goals. The goals can be anything from getting a job to finding a romantic partner to reducing feelings of anxiety or depression. Once you meet your goal, you and your therapist collaboratively decide whether there is anything remaining to work on, or to end treatment.

 

PRESENT-FOCUSED

Cognitive behavioral therapy typically focuses on present difficulties and current situations that are distressing. This here-and-now focus allows you to solve current problems more quickly and effectively. Identifying specific challenges and focusing on them in a consistent and structured manner results in achieving greater treatment gains, and achieving them in a shorter period of time than in traditional talk-therapy.

 

ACTIVE

Cognitive behavioral therapy requires you and your therapist to work as a team, collaborating to solve problems. Rather than waiting for problems to get better after talking about them repeatedly from week to week, you are able to take an active role in your own treatment, using self-help assignments and CBT tools between sessions to speed up the process of change. Each session is focused on identifying ways of thinking differently, and unlearning unwanted reactions.

BRIEF

CBT is a time-limited therapy, meaning once you feel significant symptom relief and have the skills you need for success, treatment can end. This makes CBT significantly shorter in duration than traditional talk-therapy, which can last years. Many people finish CBT after just a few months of treatment. However, not everyone makes significant progress in a short time; some people may need additional therapy to reduce symptoms and create lasting change. Those with serious, chronic psychological problems may need anywhere from six months to several years of treatment. However, even in these cases CBT is generally more effective and of shorter duration than traditional talk therapy.

 

WELL-RESEARCHED

The most widely researched therapy that exists, over 500 studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBT for numerous psychological and medical problems. It is one of the few therapies that is scientifically proven to be effective. For more information on the kinds of problems CBT can be used to treat, explore this site using the navigation bar at the top. Follow this link to a chart comparing the effectiveness of CBT to other treatments.

SUPPORTIVE

 

Making big changes can be difficult. Cognitive behavioral therapists take this very seriously, and are dedicated to helping the client along this process at the client's own pace, offering CBT tools in an environment of warmth and caring.  Relying on the foundation of a supportive relationship, clients feel more comfortable stepping outside of their comfort zone to achieve their goals. 

 

© 2019 by Aileen Malig, LCSW