Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) is a talking therapy that has been developed to help people to manage and cope better with psychological and emotional distress. It does this by helping people to understand the links between how they think, feel and behave and how these links maintain distress. Once we can understand these links, we can then begin to use CBT to break the cycles that maintain these difficulties.
As a talking therapy, CBT works in a number of different ways. Firstly, you work together with your therapist to develop a shared understanding of the problem. This involves building a working relationship with your therapist where you feel safe to be open and honest about your difficulties. Once you have this shared understanding, you and the therapist begin to develop strategies for managing the distress you experience. The next, and most important step in CBT, is that you both work together to find ways to challenge the thoughts and beliefs that you hold about yourself and the world. Through challenging perceptions, we believe that we can begin to change the way we feel and the way we choose to cope. Your therapists job is to provide an environment where you can feel comfortable to challenge your own idea’s and to help you to identify area’s that may be maintaining your distress.
CBT is a rewarding therapy as it can provide people with clear and marked improvements in their wellbeing in a relatively short space of time. In order to get the most out of your therapy, it is important to follow a few principles which can be worked on early in therapy:
1) Be open, honest and transparent with your therapist and yourself
2) Set clear goals for treatment so that we can monitor progress
3) Be prepared to make changes that may be challenging in the short term
4) Do homework between the sessions to maximise the effects of therapy
5) Collaborate with your therapist as 2 heads are better than 1
6) Whilst it may be helpful to understand how problems develop, CBT helps to change the consequences of the problem in the here and now
7) CBT is structured and works to a clear set of aims
8) CBT is short term, lasting anywhere between 6-20 sessions depending on the nature of the problem
If your aim from therapy is to lead a more fulfilling life free from the distress caused by negative and unwanted thoughts and ideas, then CBT is for you. CBT is for anyone who would like to learn to understand themselves a little bit better, recognise, challenge and alter negative thoughts and experience appropriate emotions at appropriate times. We are all human and all experience a range of emotions from time to time, but if you find yourself feeling sad, angry, scared, nervous or upset at times when it does not seem necessary, then you may benefit from therapy.
* Please note we are unable to accept referrals for individuals under the age of 18, those who have ongoing substance abuse issues, those who pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or others and individuals with a diagnosis of personality disorder or psychotic disorders such as Schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder. People who have undergone multiple episodes of previous treatment, or inpatient stays, may find that short term CBT isn't right for them.
We can all find ourselves being self-critical occasionally and to some degree this can be a healthy way to identify area’s of personal growth. This type of criticism can become a problem when it is consistently negative, self-focussed and rigid. We can begin to blame ourselves for difficulties in our own lives, as well as in the environment around us. This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment. If we find it difficult to challenge these types of thoughts, we may benefit from support to re-evaluate our perspectives.
Common problems experienced like this include:
- Low-self esteem
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Eating disorders
- Relationship problems
- Lack of assertiveness
It is normal, and quite often useful, to experience anxiety at times. This can be in response to life stressors, or significant life changes. Anxiety can become a problem when it starts to show up unexpectedly and at times when it is not helpful. Common anxiety disorders that are experienced and which respond well to treatment are:
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Health anxiety
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a common mental health problem that can develop after experiencing a traumatic, often life-threatening (ours or others’), event. It is normal to experience upsetting memories, feel nervous or on edge and to find day-to-day activities more difficult in the immediate aftermath. This is a normal reaction to abnormal events. We generally expect these symptoms to subside within the first few weeks or months. If they persist and you find yourself regularly bombarded with anxiety, flashbacks, intrusive memories and nightmares, then you may find therapy helpful to work through this distress.
We all experience low mood from time to time. If you find yourself regularly feeling down, with feelings of sadness, guilt and shame, regular negative thoughts about yourself, the world around you and the future, or a general sense of tiredness, lack of energy and withdrawal, then it may be time to get some support.
- Panic is characterised by intense episodes of strong anxiety. We can often worry at these times that there may be something wrong with us, that we are about to die, or that we are “going crazy”. CBT can help with the negative thoughts as well as the physical symptoms.
- Phobia’s are common anxiety based problems characterised by an intense fear of a particular item or object that induces a strong anxiety response and respond very well to CBT based therapy.
We all experience difficulties in life, such as trouble within relationships, being overworked or feeling that we just don’t have enough hours in the day. If you find yourself often worrying about situations, or feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, CBT may be able to help.