How Does Cognitive Therapy Help In Individual Counseling?


Commonly known as CBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a short-term psychotherapeutic intervention that helps alleviate the symptoms of various mental health conditions. This includes depression and anxiety disorders that may negatively impact a person’s behavior.

It involves helping people identify their thoughts and behaviors in relation to their relationships, lifestyle, and environment. This way, they are able to change their ideological approach for a healthy mental state.

How CBT works 

CBT’s concept is based on how your actions, thoughts, physical sensations, and feelings are interconnected. It identifies the negative thoughts and feelings that can trap you into a vicious cycle.

Simply put, CBT works towards a problem-specific and goal-oriented approach by focusing on an individual’s present-day challenges, behavior, and thoughts to help them achieve their goals. Now let’s see how CBT helps in a person seeking treatment.

Individual Counseling and Cognitive Behavior Therapy 

Also known as psychotherapy, talk therapy, or individual therapy, individual counseling involves a psychologist treating an individual through a method known as a one-on-one session.

This type of therapy encourages openness and honesty in various dialogue topics on issues that cause distress and anxiety. While the technique is sometimes difficult to begin and break through into the patient’s main causes of despair, it is one of the most popular forms of therapy today. It allows therapists to build rapport with clients while working together to boost their self-esteem while solving the underlying mental issues.

Just like other forms of therapy, individual therapy sessions don’t magically make problems disappear. However, it can equip you with the knowledge needed to cope with discomfort and distress more appropriately. Individual therapy addresses the following issues:

  • Trauma
  • Sexuality
  • self-esteem
  • Depression, Stress, and Anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating issues
  • Extreme emotions
  • Work-related issues
  • Friends and family concerns
  • Loss of enjoyment in activities
  • Family or Personal relationship issues

Types of Individual Counseling

Fortunately, there are many types of individual counseling today. In this case, your therapist will determine which type of treatment works best for you based on your situation and in accordance with your needs and the goals you want to achieve. This is because there is no particular technique perfect for everyone. Here are the most common types of individual therapy:

  1. Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT): Usually, IPT uses a uniquely structured model to treat mental health issues and help individuals address current concerns to improve their interpersonal relationships.
  2. Existential Therapy: Existential Therapy sessions offer quite a holistic approach to individual therapy. It does not only focus on the past but seeks to look at the whole of your experiences without judgment.
  3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a short-term form of therapy that focuses on how individuals think and behave to improve their feelings. CBT is useful in treating mood, drug abuse, and sleep disorders.
  4. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT focuses on building new skills to reduce difficulties caused by mental health issues. Usually, the therapist helps build the patient’s mindfulness, enhance distress tolerance, boost interpersonal effectiveness, and improve emotional regulation and relationships.
  5. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). This version of CBT mainly encourages mindfulness and meditation practices. The therapy session helps you familiarize yourself with states of difficulties surrounding the patient’s mind, disorders, and contentment. Usually, its counseling is focused on the individual’s immediate or near future concerns.
  6. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy are typically used to treat trauma and related disorders. It involves bilateral stimulation to help an individual during a therapy process to get rid of blockages both psychologically and physically.
  7. Motivational Interviewing: Motivational Interviewing is a new form of therapy that focuses on building a patient’s motivation to spark change. It is usually effective in the treatment of addictions and substance use disorders.
  8. Psychodynamic Therapy: Psychodynamic Therapy differs from other techniques because it is not solution-oriented. Instead, its goal is to have patients see patterns of thoughts and behaviors more clearly.
  9. Solution-Focused Therapy: This type of treatment involves helping individuals assess how they have solved problems in the past, what exceptions may be present to the problem, and how to move forward.
  10. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): This psychological treatment teaches mindfulness skills to help patients live and behave according to their specific personal values while developing psychological flexibility.

Goals of Individual Counseling

Many depend on individual counseling such that it has become one of the basic needs in many households with goals to achieve. Individual therapy focuses on inspiring change and improving the quality of the patient’s life through self-awareness and self-exploration to build the patient’s self-esteem in the long run.

It also includes career counseling and planning, grief counseling to alleviate the pain of losing a loved one, and dealing with job issues. It helps encourage an open and honest dialogue about the problems causing any discomfort or distress. Here are some of the goals people look to achieve when signing up for individual therapy:

  • Improvement in dialogue and communication skills with friends and family
  • Development of new insights regarding life
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment and support
  • Decision-making techniques to help an individual make the right choices
  • Learn how to have difficult conversations with friends and family
  • Help them gain more empathy and build better relationships
  • Improvement of physical health
  • Mitigation of mental health issues symptoms
  • Help individuals facilitate lifestyle changes for a healthier life

What to Expect During an Individual Counseling

Usually, individual counseling sessions last between 45 and 60 minutes. Expect the counselor to encourage you to open up and be honest about issues that distress you throughout this period. The first session is typically about gathering as much information as possible.

The therapist will support and make the patient feel safe to talk more about any past physical, mental, and emotional health.

But remember, it can take a few sessions for a therapist to properly understand the specific issues that brought the patient to therapy. In most cases, the most important thing in the first session is determining if the therapist’s style is a good fit for the patient’s specific goals or needs.

Usually, the frequency and length of sessions depend on the following factors:

  • How quickly an individual receiving therapy improves
  • Financial limitations
  • The mental health condition addressed and its severity
  • The amount of distress being caused by a mental issue
  • How long the person in treatment has had mental distress issues
  • How much the problems affect an individual’s day-to-day life

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

According to experts, CBT focuses on thoughts and feelings that play a primary role in behavior change. For instance, a person constantly thinking about car accidents and other road disasters may avoid traveling by road.

For that reason, cognitive behavior therapy is focused on ultimately teaching people that they cannot control every aspect of the world around them. However, individuals with such conditions can control how they interpret and deal with things in their environment. The benefits of CBT include;

  • It allows engagement of healthier thinking patterns that enables trust and personal growth
  • It is an effective short-term treatment option
  • Experts find it effective for a wide variety of maladaptive behaviors
  • It can be effective when conducted both online or face-to-face
  • It doesn’t involve psychotropic medication

Challenges of CBT

Like any other psychological intervention method out there, CBT has a share of its limitations. They include:

  • One must be willing to change and spend time and effort analyzing their thoughts and feelings.
  • It is a gradual process that may take time to help a person take incremental steps toward a behavior change.
  • It requires someone to face their emotions and anxieties head-on, making it an uncomfortable process.
  • CBT is very structured and focuses on underlying unconscious resistances to change individuals’ lives in specific situations. It involves approaches such as psychoanalytic psychotherapy and other techniques.
  • Change can be difficult in a CBT process since it only addresses current problems and issues but doesn’t focus on underlying causes of mental health conditions like unhappy childhood.

Best Individual Counseling San Diego Has to Offer 

As stated above, your therapist will determine which type of cognitive therapy suits your condition. This way, they can develop an individualized treatment based on your challenges and specific attributes. According to American Psychological Association, about 75% of people who participated in talk therapy have experienced some benefit in the long run.

Therefore if you are looking for psychological services in San Diego, you can always contact Jan Rakoff, a San Diego-based therapist to take care of your mental well-being. She deals with grief and loss therapy, marriage and couples therapy (Jan is a licensed marriage counselor), trauma and PTSD counseling, as well as depression and anxiety.

To get in touch call 853-481-0425 or email at