Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is the “gold standard” of psychological treatments for many mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. It is typically a short-term, problem focused approach that is structured and goal oriented. It is focused upon helping you improve how you feel and make changes in your life. It starts with a consultation assessment followed by goal setting. Once therapy begins, sessions are structured, starting with an agenda or plan for the time together and ending with a discussion of homework that helps extend the goals into your life. CBT helps you identify thoughts (cognitions) and actions or behaviours that get in your way and create or prolong problems. CBT helps you develop improved ways to cope and tackle the problems that brought you to therapy. This approach is collaborative and a strong therapeutic relationship helps clients to have the courage to try new behaviours, to consider new viewpoints and eventually to make changes in their lives.

Who do you see?

I see adults with mental health concerns or emotional problems or simply people adjusting to the demands of their life. I have lots of experience with anxious and depressed people, as well as those who face different types of stress. I have worked successfully with individuals with Bipolar Disorder and Psychosis.

What can I expect?

You can expect to see me in a private office setting rather than a clinic or hospital. The first appointment is a consultation session and will take approximately 60 to 75 minutes. I will ask questions about your current situation and concerns as well as your life as a whole. Generally, it is helpful to understand the whole picture before I can make any recommendations or suggestions. As part of the initial consultation, you may be asked to complete some questionnaires regarding how you are feeling. During the meeting, you will be encouraged to ask your questions as well.

How long can I expect to come?

I start with an initial meeting so that both you and I can see if therapy is indicated and whether or not we will be a “good fit” for working together. If I recommend cognitive behavioural therapy, it is typically fairly short term (e.g., 8-12 sessions) with regular discussions about progress. Therapy appointments are typically 50 minutes long. The length of treatment is based upon your needs, your response to therapy as well as your preference.

Does it work? How does it work? How can talking help me in my life?

CBT is supported by many years of research with people around the world. There are many well designed treatment studies that support this approach to change. Clinical practice guidelines in Canadian and international organizations recommend this approach for a wide range of problems, either in conjunction with medications, but often as the preferred or optimal treatment. This approach teaches you new skills to help yourself and in addition to helping you feel less distressed, it may reduce the risk of relapse in the future. It essentially helps teach you to be your own therapist. Just talking about problems and solutions is not enough—taking what you learn and applying it in your life is what leads to meaningful and long lasting change.

How much does it cost?

I charge the hourly rate recommended by the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta. Major Credit Cards accepted.

How do you ensure my privacy?

I do not keep electronic records—all documentation is kept in writing in a locked filing cabinet. The office and building both have security systems, along with security staff that work during office hours. If you are seen after regular office hours, you may be asked to sign in at the front desk, but only your first name is needed.

Information that you provide is confidential with exceptions under Alberta law. Any health care professional works to reduce risk of harm to self, others and minors. Exceptions to confidentiality will be discussed with you at the first appointment.

There may be occasional times where I ask to speak to your family physician or psychiatrist to ensure that everyone who works with you is aware of and agrees with the treatment. This step will only be taken with your signed consent and will be discussed with you.

Because no email has assured privacy, please do not send any private information via email or text messenging. Telephone contact is preferred.

What if I need help right now?

I do not provide crisis services, as I do not have after hours or weekend availability. Please call the Distress Centre or go to the nearest Emergency Department. 403-266-4357 (HELP)—24 hour Crisis Line.

Deb Dobson, PhD - 403-923-2005 -