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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Designed to Educate Anxiety Sufferers About Their Condition

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a structured form of therapy in which the client, family and therapist work together as partners to assess, define, and treat problems. Clients and families learn to examine and respond in new ways to the elements that maintain anxiety and OCD-related problems, including their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT involves a combination of psychoeducation (the “C”) and utilization of skills (the “B”), such as Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP), to best address the fear and avoidance related to debilitating anxiety and OCD. ERP is the most empirically supported and thus the “gold standard” in treating OCD and anxiety disorders.

Psychoeducation is designed to enhance client and family knowledge about anxiety and OCD. Our psychoeducation focuses on the anxiety maintenance cycle, biological underpinnings of anxiety and OCD, family dynamics, and family accommodation or the ways in which families unintentionally and sometimes unknowingly engage in behaviors that can perpetuate anxiety and OCD difficulties in their child and within the family system. Mountain Valley residents are provided a wealth of psychoeducation on these topics and the terminology associated with beginning a gradual exposure therapy-based treatment plan.

As a whole, ERP involves residents identifying fear and anxiety-producing situation, objects or thoughts and then choosing to engage in gradual exposure (the “E” of ERP) to that fear and those things that produce anxiety, avoidance and behaviors for a long enough time for them to decrease their emotional reactions and to learn new and more functional ways of responding. While avoidance and isolation tend to be the responses of individuals struggling with anxiety and OCD, Response Prevention helps our residents to engage in more functional ways and thus have more enjoyable and productive lives. ERP is a way for residents to learn to approach, rather than avoid, situations and material that they find anxiety-producing. Whether the anxiety is more situational (e.g., talking in front of the class), or generalized (e.g., frustration and anxiety caused by doubt and apprehension over the future, or significant difficulty with uncertainty), the treatment is similar, and the process the same – to work towards reducing an individual’s anxious responding, to increase their functioning, and to create opportunities for clients to learn new ways of experiencing situations and material that had been associated with their anxiety.

In addition to engaging in CBT and ERP work while at Mountain Valley, therapists also teach residents how to continue using these skills upon leaving Mountain Valley. Our goal is for residents and their families to learn how to utilize their CBT and ERP skills outside of Mountain Valley after their 60 to 90 days of treatment. We want residents and families to create an environment of healthy risk-taking and this involves residents designing their own exposures and continuing to utilize CBT skills.

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