Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is based on the conclusion that our interpretations of ourselves, other people and the world are fundamental in determining how we feel, behave, act and react. This varies from person to person based on our life experiences, personality and genetic make-up.
When our thought patterns and beliefs are maladaptive and negative our interpretations will also be distorted, often resulting in problems.
CBT focuses on the here and now problems and difficulties by helping clients to change how they think ("Cognitive") and what they do ("Behaviour)” to help them improve their state of mind and feel better.
In CBT the client is an active participant in helping to identify irrational or maladaptive thoughts, assumptions or beliefs that are related to debilitating negative emotions. Identifying what is dysfunctional or not helpful and replacing them with more realistic and self-helping alternatives is very important. To assist this process clients are asked to keep a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviours which are then discussed in the sessions. Client notes and between session work is invaluable in identifying areas of concern. Clients are then taught effective CBT problem solving skills, relaxation and distraction techniques and strategies to assist them to progress and gradually face activities which may have been avoided independent of the therapist.
Any concerns regarding possible relapses are also addressed and training given to prepare for anything that may undermine continued progress. Formal therapy is then no longer needed.
CBT is founded on three main assumptions:
1. Feelings and behaviours are directly affected by the was a person thinks.
2. Negative and unrealistic patterns of thinking give rise to emotional disorders.
3. Altering negative, unrealistic thought patterns to more positive alternatives can reduce emotional disturbance and distress.
Maladaptive thinking is “learned” and can be “unlearned”.
A person who’s depressed may come to see themselves as an ordinary member of the human race, rather than inferior or fatally flawed. Or even have another attitude: that thoughts are just thoughts, nothing more.
What Has CBT Been Helpful In Treating?
Panic, distress, emotional disorders, social, behavioural and relationship difficulties such as depression, anxiety or phobias, marital discord, violence and hostility, addictions, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and more.
The advantage of CBT is that you can continue to practise and develop your skills even after the sessions have finished. This makes it less likely that your symptoms or problems will return. You regain control.
What Do CBT Sessions Involve?
CBT sessions at Finding the Answer are normally done individually but group sessions especially at the early stages are productive as well.
In the initial sessions the therapist checks to see that CBT suits you and that you feel comfortable with it. You’ll be asked questions about your past life and background to understand how it is affecting you now. You decide what you want to deal with in the short, medium and long term and together with the therapist decide on an agenda for each session.
Working together, you break each problem down into its separate parts. To help this process, your may be asked to keep a diary which will help to identify your individual patterns of thoughts, emotions, feelings and actions. Together you will look at your thoughts, feelings and behaviours to work out: if they are unrealistic or unhelpful and how they affect each other, and you.
The therapist will then help you to work out how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours. It's often easier to talk about doing something, much harder to actually do it, so we help you. After you have identified what you can change, your therapist will recommend "homework" so you can practise these changes in your everyday life.
Depending on the situation, you might start to:
1. Question a self-critical or upsetting thought and replace it with a positive (more realistic) one that you have developed in CBT .
2. Recognise that you are about to do something that will make you feel worse and instead, do something more helpful.
3. At each session you‘ll discuss what happened since the last session. Your therapist will help with suggestions if any of the tasks seem too hard or aren’t helping you. They wont ask you to do things you don't want to do, you decide the pace of the treatment and what you will and won't try. The strength of CBT is that you can continue to practise and develop your skills even after the sessions have finished. This makes it less likely that your symptoms or problems will return.
Is CBT Right For Everyone?
No, it’s not. If your feeling low or having difficulty in concentrating, it can be difficult, initially. Talking about feelings of depression, anxiety, shame or anger isn’t easy either. We know that. Don’t worry, we pace your sessions so you can cope with the work and continue to progress and be happier.
How long will the treatment last?
The average is about 10 sessions over 10 weeks. It depends on the type of problem and how CBT is working for you. Some clients do take longer as it’s not a thing you can rush and help and support is vital for improvement and a better life. New research suggests CBT may be better than antidepressants at preventing depression returning. Help and assistance is always available even after the formal sessions have finished so you’ll always have our support.
In Wales two computer-based programmes have been approved for use by the NHS. This is due to the demand for CBT counsellors and therapists being so great and long delays existing between clients asking for CBT and actually beginning therapy.