Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) - Overcome your fears. Improve your mood. Build your confidence.
What is CBT?
CBT is a talking therapy which has been proven through extensive scientific research to help with a wide range of emotional and physical health problems in adults, young people and children. It is actually an integration of two therapies:
Cognitive Therapy is concerned with thoughts and thinking styles. These include day-to-day passing thoughts, personal rules, images and memories and deeply held "truths" about ourselves, other people and the world.
Behavioural Therapy focuses on habits, routines and actions which play a part in keeping us stuck.
In combination, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves looking at how we think and feel in difficult situations and how this affects the way that we act. In turn, we look at how our actions affect how we think and feel and so on.
Traditional CBT may be used along side other approaches in more complex cases.
What can CBT help with?
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT to help with:
- Panic and Agoraphobia
- Social Anxiety and Shyness
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
There is also good evidence that CBT is helpful in treating many other problems, including:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME)
- Chronic Pain
- Medical Unexplained Symptoms
- Sleep Difficulties
- Anger and Frustration
- Phobias (eg. needles, dogs, etc)
- Eating Problems
CBT can usually be used if you are on medication or on its own.
What does CBT involve?
CBT is a collaborative therapy, meaning that you work in partnership with your therapist to make changes in your life. To start with, your therapist will ask you to consider your goals for therapy. These goals relate to where you want to be when your problems are resolved, rather than simply being about 'feeling better'. CBT is about making changes to improve your whole life.
Your therapist will help you to build a model of the way upsetting problems work by breaking them down into their individual parts and learning how each part affects the others. This model is called a Formulation. When you understand how the problem works you can identify what you need to do to fix it.
Using the Formulation as a guide, you work collaboratively with the therapist to find new ways to look at situations which are more accurate. You also examine the ways in which you act with the aim of changing any unhelpful patterns and testing out your new ways of thinking.
CBT is an active form of psychotherapy which is concerned with making changes in the way that you do things. As a result, most of the work happens between sessions where you have the opportunity to try out and practice ideas and strategies which have been developed in the sessions. Your therapist will help you to plan what to try between sessions.
Once you have achieved your goals, you can take some time to make sure that the changes stick. It is helpful to spend a session or two working on a blue print to take you forward into being 'your own therapist'.
How long does it take?
The number of CBT sessions you need really depends on the problem[s] you need help with. Most problems can be helped with between five and twenty weekly sessions lasting around 50 minutes. Some more complex problems may take longer.
Is CBT just a quick fix?
One of the common myths about CBT is that you never work on issues or memories relating to your past and that it is simply about positive thinking and 'zapping' thoughts as they crop up. CBT is concerned with thinking ranging from minute-to-minute fleeting thoughts to rules, memories and imagery and deeper Schemas which represent our concepts of the world, society, our the people in our lives and ourselves. Sometimes, people find that memories and feelings from their recent or distant past are very powerful and can be be difficult to move on from, keeping them locked in complex, unhelpful patterns of behaviour such as repetitively getting into damaging relationships or missing out on important opportunities in life. However, other problems tend to have a more here-and-now impact on life so need a here-and-now focus for treatment.
The aim of CBT is always to achieve your goals so it is true to say that we always look to move forward from your current problems. However, the nature of the work is dictated by the nature of the problem.
Where can I find more information?
For more information on CBT go to the British Association of Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies at: babcp.com
Think CBT might be helpful?
Get in touch with Graeme to find out more and to arrange a free initial consultation.