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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy technique that helps people change their thoughts and beliefs (cognition) as well as their actions (behavior). CBT is evidence-based. Multiple research studies, including randomized controlled trials (RCT), have demonstrated its effectiveness for anxiety-related conditions.

Dr. McMahon has over 30 years experience using cognitive behavioral therapy and other techniques to provide brief effective therapy for her clients. She specializes in helping clients with anxiety, fears or phobias, and insomnia.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety and Panic

CBT for anxiety includes information and exercises that helps you:

  • Understand the causes of anxiety and the anxiety cycle.
  • Identify your personal anxiety cycle including fears, triggers, and panic actions.
  • Reduce your triggers.
  • Challenge your fears and change your thinking.
  • Change your actions and resume a normal life.
  • Learn additional techniques for increasing your resilience and dealing with possible recurrences.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Fears and Phobias

If you face your fear but continue to believe the activity or situation is dangerous, you are likely to remain afraid. The cognitive part of treatment helps you identify your fears, challenge them, and change your thinking.

You are also likely to remain afraid if you avoid your fear, leave when afraid, or numb your fear with drugs or alcohol. The behavioral part of treatment helps you change your response to the feared situation or activity. You learn anxiety management skills such as muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, self-hypnosis, mindfulness, or acceptance.

If you tell yourself a feared situation isn’t dangerous but never face your fear, you will remain afraid. Exposure therapy involves deliberately and repeatedly facing your fear using your skills and your new thinking, until you are no longer afraid. Exposure is also called desensitization or habituation. If you never face your fear, you can never truly believe you are safe and able to cope.

Exposure is essential, but can be the hardest part of treatment. Virtual reality therapy makes effective treatment easier and faster. You face your fear in a 3-D, immersive virtual reality which can be controlled and tailored for your needs. You face your fear safely, gradually, with your therapist’s guidance and support as often as needed until you overcome your fear.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is a safe, effective, non-drug treatment for chronic sleep problems. Difficulty sleeping reduces your quality of life and increases your risk of illness, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain.

Dr. McMahon can help you identify and change thoughts and behaviors that contribute to your sleep problems with CBT-I. Unlike medications, CBT-I does not interfere with restful sleep, prevent you from awakening if needed, or leave you groggy.

By working with Dr. McMahon, you can learn to:

  • Recognize and change beliefs that interfere with your ability to sleep. For example, learning how to control or eliminate negative thoughts or worries that keep you awake.
  • Develop good sleep habits and avoid behaviors that keep you from sleeping well.

CBT-I can benefit most people with insomnia including older adults. The effects of CBT-I are long-lasting and there is no evidence of negative side effects. For more information see Insomnia Treatment or call Dr. McMahon at 1-415-625-3565.