Why I Choose Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

When a psychologist chooses the type of treatment "approach" that he or she should consider when providing psychological services for clients, there are at least two ways to approach the decision: one is from a theoretical standpoint, including the characteristics of the client, and the other from a practical standpoint. In terms of choosing a treatment approach from a theoretical perspective, I am suggesting that a psychologist would utilise his or her own theoretical perspective or "frame of reference" for understanding the causes and the treatment of psychological problems, and how that applies to the current client. In terms of a practical standpoint, I am referring to the resources and limitations of the Toronto community to provide psychological services to the people who reside in it, and who need it the most.

In my experience, I have got a sense that "theoretical perspectives" become the focal point for making decisions about psychological problems and about choosing the treatment approach by private practice psychologists, and therefore, the ability for the public to access psychological services becomes increasingly difficult. This is particularly true of Toronto, even for problems with a high prevalence such as anxiety disorders or anger management issues. I say this because psychologists in Toronto work in a climate of strictly limited resources, and this obviously has ramifications for the outcomes of mental health in this city. Therefore, although it is my opinion that a psychologist's theoretical perspective is highly important, it is equally important to gain access to psychological services that have been proven to work. Given the lack of funding in mental health in Toronto (what I call "economic rationalisation"), psychological services that use structure and efficiency are highly needed. In most cases, mental health services for residents of Toronto consist of "fee for service" with private practice psychologists, including the use of extended health benefits (provided by their workplace), or in more severe cases, a referral to see a psychiatrist under OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). The unfortunate part is, however, psychologists are not covered under OHIP, and this results in further limited mental health resources for the Toronto community, especially for those persons in which a psychiatric referral is clearly inappropriate.

So when deciding on psychological services in a community faced with limited mental health resources such as Toronto (particularly when deciding on utilising a private practice psychologist), one might ask, "what approach should I choose"? My strong opinion is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT, of course! The reason I, and so many other psychologists, strongly advocate Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is that time and time again, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has been proven to work in controlled research studies. In fact, not only has Cognitive Behaviour Therapy been proven to work, but it also has been proven to work for most psychological problems.

Indeed, there are other approaches that a psychologist could employ that are efficacious besides Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. However, I am focusing on the idea of providing psychological services in a community with limited resources such as Toronto. Again, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has not only been demonstrated to work for most psychological problems, but it does so in a short amount of time. Psychologists report favourable outcomes for clients in as little as 10-20 sessions, and in my experience as a psychologist, I have seen many of my clients get optimal improvement in as little as 6 sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. In a resource-strapped climate such as Toronto, where effective mental health outcomes are so desperately needed, yet so underfunded, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy makes good sense.

So what is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy? It is a combination of "cognitive" techniques and "behavioural" strategies aimed at helping an individual improve his or her life. The cognitive component entails examining your negative thoughts, including your deeper beliefs about the world and challenging the irrationality of those thoughts to help reduce negative emotions. The behavioural component of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy aims to identify particular behaviours that can be improved to complement your new "rational" way of thinking. That could include such things as communication techniques, assertiveness, problem solving, and time management. Taken together we call this wholistic approach "Cognitive Behaviour Therapy"!

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is employed by psychologists for a variety of psychological problems such as anger management, low self esteem, anxiety disorders, panic disorder, depression, and relationship problems, just to name a few. It is important to note that there are many unregulated therapists who employ Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in Toronto, however, I would suggest finding a licensed psychologist who is registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. Not only do licensed psychologists registered with the College have a strong level of training in psychology, but they are accredited and regulated, so that if you have any problems resulting from the psychological services you received, you have recourse. Good luck with your search for a private practice psychologist, and I strongly suggest you consider Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I have been working as a licensed psychologist for over 13 years, and in my experience, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy works. And although Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is valuable in any context, is particularly important in a community such as Toronto with limited mental health resources.