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Cognitive therapy is an extensively researched form of psychological treatment. It has proven effective with depression, anxiety, relationship problems, alcohol/substance abuse, panic attacks, phobias, anger management, and a wide range of other psychological conditions. Cognitive therapy sessions are solution-oriented and focus primarily on your present life concerns. Less emphasis is placed on exploring your past.

Developed by Dr. Aaron Beck, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania, cognitive therapy works on the principle that our thoughts about situations, rather than the situations themselves, strongly affect our feelings and behavior. Often individuals are unaware of these thoughts, which are automatic and may include errors or distortions. Cognitive therapy helps people learn to identify and monitor these thoughts, use various methods to challenge them, and develop new and more productive beliefs, emotions and behaviors.

Cognitive therapy is active and collaborative, with patient and therapist working together on solving the patient's problems. It often entails homework, which may include monitoring and recording one’s thoughts, practicing relaxation and breathing exercises, and experimenting with new behaviors. These experiments can be valuable learning tools for overcoming old patterns and developing new, more adaptive, ways of living.

Further information about cognitive therapy can be obtained via The Academy of Cognitive Therapy website at www.academyofct.org.

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