Individual Therapy with Adolescents and Adults

There are many forms of psychotherapy available and it can often be confusing deciding which form best suits your needs. A search online, reading a book at a bookstore, or even speaking with a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional can leave an individual uncertain which form of therapy may be best for them.

Dr. Kot is trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy, a form of active therapy which is based on clinical research and demonstrates both efficacy and effectiveness for a large range of psychological issues. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a relatively short-term, focused psychotherapy for a wide range of psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, anger, fears, and substance abuse/ dependence. The focus of therapy is on how you are thinking (your "cognitions), behaving, and communicating today, rather than on your early childhood experiences. That is not to say that your previous experiences are unimportant, minimized, or not explored. On the contrary, your past experiences are an important part in determining how you can change in the here and now, which is the primary focus of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that cognitive-behavioral therapy can be as effective as medication for depression, anxiety, obsessions, and other fears. Furthermore, because patients learn self-help in therapy, they are often able to maintain their improvement after therapy has been completed.

When you begin cognitive-behavioral therapy, Dr. Kot may ask you to fill out several self-report forms that assess a range of symptoms and problems. These forms evaluate depression, anxiety, anger, fears, physical complaints, personality, and relationships. The purpose of this evaluation is to gather as much information on you as possible, so that you and Dr. Kot can learn quickly what kinds of problems you do (or do not) have and the extent of your problems. It is during this evaluation that Dr. Kot will determine whether cognitive-behavioral therapy is right for you. If not, Dr. Kot will gladly refer you to another competent licensed psychologist. In some instances, psychological testing may be necessary to clarify a diagnosis. If this is the case, both you and Dr. Kot will determine if a referral is necessary. For some patients, a formal psychiatric evaluation for medication may be necessary. Please share your beliefs concerning medication as a treatment option and Dr. Kot will provide you with information which may help you make a decision. If medication is deemed necessary as an adjunct in treatment, Dr. Kot will refer you to a prescribing clinician who best suits your needs and presenting problems. You and Dr. Kot will work together to develop a plan of therapy. This might include how often you need to come; the relevance of medication; your diagnosis; your goals; skill acquisition; needed changes in the way you think, behave, and communicate; and other factors.

Some other forms of therapy are unstructured, but in cognitive-behavioral therapy you and Dr. Kot will set an agenda for each meeting. The agenda might include a review of your experience in the previous session, your homework, one or two current problems, a review of what you've accomplished in this session, and homework for the next week. The goal is to solve problems, not just complain about them.

What you learn in therapy is what you practice outside of therapy on your own. Research demonstrates that patients who carry out homework assignments get better faster and stay better longer. Your self-help homework might include keeping track of your moods, thoughts, and behaviors; scheduling activities; developing goals; challenging your negative thoughts; collecting information; changing the way you communicate with others; and other assignments.

Part of your problems may be due to how your parents, siblings, and peers treated you, but your solutions to your problems lie in what you are thinking and doing today. However, with many people we do find it useful at times to review the sources of your problems and help you learn how to change the way you think about them now.

Part of your problems may be due to biochemistry, but many other factors – such as the way you think, behave, and relate, as well as current and past life events – are important. Using cognitive-behavioral therapy does not rule out the use of medication. For most psychiatric disorders, there is considerable evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapy is as effective as medication. For very serious levels of depression and anxiety, research suggests that it may be best to combine medication with therapy. An advantage of cognitive-behavioral therapy is that you also learn ways to solve your problems on your own.

You and Dr. Kot can identify specific goals at the beginning of therapy – and you can modify these goals as you continue. Then you can evaluate whether you are becoming less depressed, anxious, angry, or the like. You should feel free to give Dr. Kot feedback on your progress. This feedback from you is useful in order to figure out what works and what doesn't work.1

1Some information was obtained from Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders by Robert L. Leahy and Stephen J. Holland.