If you're an watcher of A&E''s Obsessed, you might recognize John Tsilimparis as one of the tireless--and apparently fearless--psychotherapists helping OCD sufferers out of deeply ingrained habits and compulsions. (That's him riding shotgun with a woman shakingly terrified of the highway.)
Tsilimparis is also an L.A.-based private practice anxiety specialist and author of Living with Panic Disorder. This summer, Tsilimparis launched a new project, a monthly CBT Clinic based at the Southern California Counseling Center. The catch: It's completely free and open to the public--a good deal in a city where therapy can run hundreds of dollars for less than an hour of face time. Tsilimparis answered a few why-what-hows about the free clinic via email.
Why a CBT Clinic?
The goal is to introduce Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatment to Los Angelenos via a free, individual CBT consultation. We hope to potentially initiate treatment for those who may never have attempted to access treatment before, due to lack of finances, lack of knowledge about the therapeutic process, or even fear of the process. It's an opportunity for people to be introduced to a new kind of therapy and subsequent positive life-style change that they more-than-likely have never experienced before.
My belief is that all people should have the privilege of learning and integrating this type of skills-based therapy. I also believe CBT is one of the most humanistic types of psychotherapy because it focuses on an individual's thinking instead of an individual's character.
The free CBT consultation will consist of an individual session with a CBT trained counselor who will offer an introduction and brief education into what CBT is about, how it works, and how this treatment helps people with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief and loss, etc.
What inspired you to do this?
I spent many years at a major L.A.-area hospital running a similar program of its kind with great results--that's the main inspiration. CBT is a valuable coping skill--or a tool for life--that can transform peoples lives. The outpatient psychiatric CBT program helped patients from all walks of life as well as patients with many different kinds of psychiatric diagnoses. Most of the patients that passed through our program and graduated left us with solid life management skills and enduring coping techniques. Their quality of life had been markedly raised by the CBT treatment and many chose to seek continuing CBT treatment elsewhere.
This success inspired me to try and offer this potent treatment for free to anyone who is willing to try it. We hope to positively affect and influence more people in the near future.
The Free CBT Clinic at the Southern California Counseling Center occurs every month. Find dates and updates on the clinic's Facebook page.