Cognitive Behavioral Strategies

Lynne S. Gots, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

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2440 M Street, NW
Suite 710
Washington, DC 20037

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CBT is an effective, research-proven method for treating anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia, Phobias, and Social Anxiety Disorder.  Cognitive-behavioral strategies include:

  • Learning to identify anxiety triggers
  • Cultivating an attitude of acceptance
  • Developing the willingness to approach rather than avoid feared situations
  • Increasing tolerance for uncertainty and discomfort
  • Recognizing unhelpful, distorted thinking patterns that contribute to distress

While a significant reduction in the symptoms of anxiety is often a by-product of treatment, “getting rid” of anxiety is not a realistic goal.  Anxiety is a normal part of living.  My approach can help you keep anxiety from taking over your life and preventing you from engaging in activities you value.

Treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder include a specific type of anxiety therapy called Exposure/Response Prevention (E/RP).  This strategy helps to break the patterns maintaining the OCD cycle by eliminating compulsions.  You learn to face situations or thoughts that trigger compulsions without resorting to rituals.  This way, you can relieve distress and focus on what’s truly important to you.

Panic attack treatments aim to reduce avoidance, which paradoxically makes anxiety worse.  Learning positive coping strategies and accepting anxiety are key features of this treatment.  The goal of therapy for panic disorder and agoraphobia is to free yourself from the limitations that anxiety creates and lead a fuller, more satisfying life.

Phobia treatment also can give you more freedom by enabling you to confront your fears.  I offer Fear of Flying help that has allowed many people to fly more comfortably with or without medication. 

CBT originated as a treatment for depression in the mid-1970s. Its effectiveness has been well-documented.  Treatments for depression have expanded to include other methods, such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression.  This promising approach for preventing relapse incorporates meditation and breathing exercises.  These activities heighten awareness and help you evaluate unpleasant thoughts and feelings more clearly.  CBT for depression is much more than a collection of techniques or a primer in “positive thinking.”  It is a way to change your outlook and behavior.  CBT is a useful complement to antidepressant therapy and a stand-alone treatment for those who prefer not to take medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a proven method for treating certain types of sleep problems. You may be a candidate for CBT-I if you:

  • have trouble falling or staying asleep
  • lie in bed for a long time while awake
  • go to bed early or nap during the day to make up for lost sleep
  • use alcohol to fall asleep
  • have  poor bedtime habits or an inconsistent sleep routine

The first step is to evaluate your sleep patterns to determine how efficiently you are sleeping.  Treatment then involves adjusting your sleep schedule and helping you develop new habits to promote good sleep.   With these methods, many people are able to wean themselves off sleep medications and finally get a good night’s rest, even after years of insomnia.

Attention Deficit Disorder often interferes with a productive work life and also can get in the way of leisure activities and household responsibilities.   CBT teaches the following skills:

  • Organization and planning
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving
  • Prioritizing
  • Minimizing distractions
  • Enhancing motivation

The preceding overview covers the conditions for which I most commonly provide treatment. I also offer weight-loss treatment, habit-reversal training for trichotilomania and skin-picking, chronic pain and illness management, and CBT strategies for other medical problems. Please contact me to discuss any specific issues that may be troubling you.

© 2008-2017 Lynne S. Gots, PhD. Photographs by Steven Marks Photography.