The digital health world is so abuzz with hype about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you’d think it was a brand new, end-all solution. Nope to both counts! To the first, CBT is hardly new; dedicated researchers and health professionals have spent years pioneering and refining it. Second, it’s not a panacea — though it is one of the most broadly effective evidence-based practices (and arguably the most easily digitized and scaled).
Therapy tends to be most effective when it blends different approaches and techniques to suit different client’s needs… a beautiful blend if you will! One that is curated by the skill of the therapist, the curriculum provided, and increasingly, the technologies used to deliver it.
In the wise words of our Director of Counseling, Chrissy: “Individuals and their situations vary greatly and it would be a disservice to only have one method to use with them. Even for an individual there can be variance between what works well depending on the particular issue. Using only one methodology would be like only having a screwdriver in your toolkit — sometimes it is exactly what you need but it doesn’t work well as a hammer.”
Here’s an example of a simple beautiful blend in action: how Narrative Therapy (NT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have complementary strengths.
How does each type of therapy frame the issue/presenting problem?
CBT: Cognitive distortions — distorted patterns of thinking automatically intrude people’s lives, causing unwanted emotions and behavior. Cognitive behavioral theory identifies various types of these unwanted thoughts specifically, such as “overgeneralization, “jumping to conclusions”, or “mind-reading” (1,2,3) .
NT: Problem-saturated life stories — negative and or disturbing narratives people have about their lives (4). “Impoverished” narratives ignore crucial aspects of one’s life, and “disorganized” narratives are incoherent and or do not produce meaning (5) .
What’s the goal of therapeutic intervention?