Cognitive therapy is a time-limited, structured approach that involves a high degree of active involvement from the therapist and the client. An agenda is collaboratively set with the client for each session to ensure that critical issues are identified and addressed and that enough time is allocated each agenda item. Agenda items may include a review of self-help assignments and issues explored in the previous session, therapist feedback pertaining to the previous and current session, an assessment of interventions that have been effective (or not effective) thus far, and current, here-and-now issues that need to be addressed. Agenda items are then prioritized, and the therapist and client determine collaboratively which agenda goals are realistic to accomplish in one session. Allowing time at the end of each session to briefly review what has been discussed and accomplished is also an important part of the session agenda (See Beck et. al., 1979).
Dr. Mervin Smucker is an international trauma consultant and author of numerous articles and books on trauma and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions.