CBT: Cognitive-behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel / act better even if the situation does not change.

In cognitive therapy, clients learn to:

  • Distinguish between thoughts and feelings
  • Become aware of the ways in which thoughts can influence feelings in ways that sometimes are not helpful.
  • Learn about thoughts that seem to occur automatically, without even realizing how they may affect emotions.
  • Evaluate critically whether these "automatic" thoughts and assumptions are accurate, or perhaps biased.
  • Develop the skills to notice, interrupt, and correct these biased thoughts independently.


Personally, I feel we can all benefit from new skills to help us cope with situations that dysregulate us. Therefore, I don't believe that someone needs to have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder to benefit from learning DBT skills. There are four components to the skills taught in DBT and they include: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Mindfulness: Mindfulness is one of the biggest buzz words in therapy the last few years and it conjures various ideas on what it may or may not be. The easiest way to explain mindfulness is the ability to create space and not believe everything you think (automatic thoughts, judgmental, negative, critical thoughts). Creating distance helps us not be reactive to thoughts and since we know our thoughts fuel our feelings, this pause will provide a moment to re-frame/ re-evaluate the truth and validity of our thoughts before our feelings are effected.

So mindfulness is great, right? Yes! However, learning and implementing mindfulness takes a disciplined commitment that requires consistent practice. Clients often want to feel better without doing the work. There is no shortcut to this skill- I wouldn't urge clients to integrate it into their everyday lives if I didn't believe it can help. There is a wide volume of literature that supports the use of mindfulness. If you want to get a better understand of mindfulness, this is the book I used while training at the Phoenix Interfaith Counseling Residency Program in Phoenix, Arizona. Mindfulness in Plain English