Cognitive Therapy Compared To Other Therapy Approaches

Cognitive Therapy is Shorter-Term

Unlike many traditional therapies that spend years and years uncovering "hidden" problems, cognitive therapy is a relatively short-term approach. The length of treatment depends on the nature of the difficulty, with the average treatment being 10 to 20 sessions. The main focus is on here and now problems and solutions, not on analyzing one's childhood in laborious detail.

After the successful completion of treatment, some people continue to come for less frequent maintenance or "booster" sessions. These visits are best used when people experience new stressors or when minor symptoms reappear. Some people just come back to "brush-up" on their coping skills—much like people who take periodic golf or tennis lessons to improve their game.

Cognitive Therapy Uses Active Collaboration

In addition to its short-term emphasis, cognitive therapy is an active, structured treatment that focuses on the present rather than the past and emphasizes finding solutions to "here and now" problems. The therapist and client work together, as a team, on the planning and evaluation of treatment.

This active collaboration between therapist and client also helps establish the main goal of cognitive therapy: to help people become their own therapist by developing better coping skills that can be applied to current problems, as well as future ones. This strategy helps the client effectively maintain progress and helps prevent relapse in the future.

The idea that people can eliminate emotional distress more rapidly than with traditional therapies and at the same time learn ways to prevent further distress is one of the major benefits of cognitive therapy.