“CBT is not a monolith; it doesn’t stand alone. The science is always changing.” – Charles Small
I do not like CBT. Don’t worry; I won’t break into a salty Dr. Seuss-esque rhyme deriding cognitive behavioral therapy (although I could). But then Charles Small, LCSW, would kindly call me and my objections to CBT in rather than out. I know this because that’s how he’s handled my grumbling in the past. He’s one of those rare souls who can debate without derision, urging folks (like me) to hit pause long enough to trust his professional experience, reconsider the reams of evidence, and assess their (my) personal resistance through a more transparent lens. And you know what? Sometimes* I get it wrong about CBT.
Who is Charles Small that he convinced yours truly to sit with CBT for longer than a nanosecond? He’s a social worker at Cognitive Behavioral Associates of Chicago who, before moving into private practice, worked with veterans at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the Road Home Program at Rush University Medical Center. He’s a lecturer at Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago, offering courses on social work and evidence-based therapies for treating PTSD.
Alright! Let’s get ready to rumble! But not really. Our conversation isn’t a CBT vs. NARM cage match. In fact (and I would only say this to you because we’re friends), there are points along the healing trajectory where these two modalities intersect. “Where our actual locus of control is, for the most part, is in our behaviors,” says Charles. This mindfulness component is just one example. Another is CBT’s non-judgemental approach. “It’s not that there’s this moral right or wrong. Instead, if I’m gonna choose the sort of person I wanna be in the world, what do my behaviors have to look like?”
Charles gets points for ability to advocate for his preferred modality. “That’s what makes us good at what we do, right?” he says. “That’s how we move forward. We have to be willing to take in new information and then change how we see the world and certain modalities and other people based on incoming information. And, I think that’s what takes humility.”
*I still hate CBT, though.
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Charles Small, LCSW, is a social worker currently providing therapy for adults at Cognitive Behavioral Associates of Chicago. Prior to private group practice, Charles worked with veterans of the US Armed Services at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the Road Home Program at Rush, where he provided evidence-based psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma, and Moral Injury. Charles is also a lecturer at Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago where he offers courses on Social Work with Veterans and Evidence-based Therapies for treating PTSD.