Okay, okay, I know that everyone is pushing or hearing about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and why you should engage with a CBT-trained therapist. So why the hype? 

Well, as a CBT-trained therapist, I can tell you that a ton of research supports this treatment, and at its core, it holds the belief that behavior is learned and, therefore, can be unlearned. 

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your brain keeps playing the same thought or memory over and over again? Did this impact your mood and the way you connected with others? Did you notice that you engaged in unhealthy behaviors? CBT emphasizes this connection between your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions to challenge unhelpful thinking to improve your overall well-being with practice. 

However, I understand that one size does not fit all for any therapeutic tool, and CBT is no exception. 

A man looking out to the horizon with a search engine icon and a search box that says... "Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Me?"

6 Reasons Not to Engage in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

1.    CBT is just not right for me. 

There is no one-size-all with therapy, so I totally understand that. If you’ve tried it a few times and feel like it’s not for you, then it’s not for you. There are so many different types of therapy techniques that may work better for you. Ask your therapist about psychodynamic, mindfulness, rational emotive, or humanistic practices. Allow yourself the freedom to advocate for what you are wanting in your therapy sessions and try different styles. Now, if you haven’t tried CBT with a CBT-trained therapist, try it out, and then you can decide for yourself if it’s the right type of therapy for you, like it has been found to support so many others. 

2.    I don’t need extra work. 

Yes, CBT often includes “homework” or work to be done outside of the therapy room and between sessions. I get when you have a lot on your plate that, adding more seems daunting, but practice makes improvements. Your brain is a muscle, and practice can help to strengthen those connections. If it feels like too much, talk to your therapist; maybe you both need to re-discuss your goals and treatment plan to best suit your needs, or maybe having the formal worksheet homework that can often accompany CBT feels too formal, and that’s okay too. Therapy is work and takes buy-in, but finding a balance is critical. If it is too much, it is too much! 

3.    It feels too robotic or structured.

Oh no, if it feels like a classroom instead of a therapeutic space, then something is not right. Listen to yourself! CBT is a structured, manualized therapeutic model, but it doesn’t have to feel that way. Allowing time in between introducing new CBT techniques to process emotions, past/current experiences, and other factors is a critical piece of CBT. However, you are right; there are a lot of worksheets and models, so if that doesn’t align with what you are looking for, there are many more process-oriented therapeutic models that you could explore if CBT is still feeling too robotic, such as psychodynamic, attachment-based therapies, humanistic and interpersonal psychotherapy.

4.    I didn’t connect to my therapist. 

Well, first, let me normalize this. Just like not every therapeutic model is best for everyone, the same goes for therapist-client relationships. In your day-to-day life, you don’t always gel with everyone you meet, and I strongly recommend that you engage in a “dating-like” process with your therapist. Meet with them a few times and see if it is someone you could connect with and feel comfortable with. You are allowed to “date around”. Finding the right therapist for you is not easy but try not to allow yourself to get discouraged. You get a say in who your therapist is! 

It is important that when you are engaging with a therapist wanting CBT, you share that with them and that you seek out a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-trained therapist. Your therapist should be equipped with the knowledge and skills to engage in CBT practices. 

5.    Feels like an obligation.

It’s a lot to commit to, and it’s important that you have buy-in into your own therapeutic journey. It is yours, after all! While trying to be open and committed to the process. If CBT feels like a huge obligation, it may be time to try a different therapeutic style. It may take time and different types of therapeutic styles to find the best fit for you, and that’s okay! There may be many factors as to why right now may not be the best time for you to seek out a therapist, or maybe it’s time to prioritize yourself and your mental health! 

6.    Need more time to meet goals. 

CBT is generally considered to be brief, with about 5-20 sessions. If it feels like your goals are being rushed, or you need more time, please feel empowered enough to advocate for more time with your therapist to possibly re-discuss the treatment plan to best suit your needs. You should NOT feel rushed! This is your journey, and it should be on your timeline. 

Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For You?

If you are someone that read this article and have your own thoughts about if CBT is suitable for you or if another form of therapy might better suit you, I encourage you to contact Dr. Kendal Vaarwerk at 716.634.2600 and set up a free and confidential consultation with her, after which, together, we can decide your preferred next steps. She looks forward to hearing from you! 

Dr. Kendal Vaarwerk will tailor your treatment and CBT techniques to support your goals and needs best.