You may be familiar with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a therapy modality that is popularly used to decrease the occurrence of negative thought patterns or unhealthy habits. TEAM-CBT is a systematic way of looking at CBT practices, ensuring that the client gets the best treatment they can to help with their symptoms.

What is TEAM-CBT?

The “TEAM” is an acronym describing a way for therapists to approach their CBT treatments with clients. It asks the therapist to take a step back and ask: Is what I’m doing helping my client? How can I adjust my treatment so that I can better help my client? It’s an analytical tool for therapists that alters the CBT treatment slightly for the benefit of the client.

TEAM-CBT stands for:

  • Testing. As many therapists know, having data evidence helps guide treatment. When a therapist knows where they stand, they know where to go to better support their clients. In TEAM-CBT, the client may complete many rounds of assessment and questionnaires to help the therapist track their progress.
  • Empathy. Empathy is an important ingredient in all therapeutic treatments. TEAM-CBT asks therapists to heavily emphasize their empathy for clients by active listening, validating the client’s feelings, encouraging them to be vulnerable, and more. By bringing more empathy into the room, a client will feel more inclined to open up and share their innermost thoughts and feelings – which can then be targeted with CBT.
  • Agenda-setting. Some clients are ready to change. Others, not so much. This step in TEAM-CBT requires the therapist to assess the client’s motivation for putting their new mental health tools into action. If a client isn’t yet ready to apply their therapy in their daily lives, more time needs to be spent discussing readiness for change.
  • Methods. CBT teaches clients many skills, including tools to use with difficult thoughts or harmful habits. “Methods” refers to those skills and asks the therapist to bring in multiple skills to teach clients, so that they land on a few that are effective for them.

What happens in a TEAM-CBT session?

Sessions that incorporate the TEAM-CBT approach will look very similar to regular CBT sessions. The therapist and client will discuss the week’s thoughts and feelings, connecting the dots between how they influence each other and the client’s actions.

However, the main changes that a client will notice is the incorporation of assessments or questionnaires. These may happen at the beginning, end, or both beginning and end of a session. Clients may rate their positive and negative feelings. They might describe how they feel about their therapist, including how strongly aligned they feel. These measurements give both the client and the therapist an idea of the progress that sessions bring for the client. If needed, TEAM-CBT therapists can adjust their treatment.

What can TEAM-CBT help with?

Just like CBT, TEAM-CBT is helpful at treating:

Other therapeutic modalities might also benefit from the “TEAM” approach, so this system of analyzing treatment can be adapted for other types of therapy. It’s best to find a therapist who is certified or trained in TEAM-CBT, as they will have the experience needed to offer TEAM-CBT that is most beneficial for the client.