What is CBT?
CBT works on the premise that how we THINK and what we DO affects how we FEEL.
At times of great stress, worry, sadness, fear sometimes through no fault of our own, we can fall into patterns of thinking and responding which can worsen how we feel.
Unintentionally, the ways in which we think and the things that we do, which we believe are helpful and ease distress in the short term, can maintain our problems and keep us “stuck” in vicious circles in the long term.
How does it work?
CBT is about finding out what is keeping us stuck, analysing our thoughts and becoming more familiar with our behavioural responses. Only through looking at our vicious cycles and making changes to the ways in which we think and behave, can we begin to break these cycles thereby reducing our stress levels, improving our mood, taking control of our panic responses, managing our worrying thoughts, and building our self esteem, etc.
I often say to clients that whilst the process of looking at our unhelpful thinking and behavioural cycles can be painful (similar to cleaning out and dressing a physical wound) it is a crucial first step to understanding and breaking them. Ultimately facilitating healing and offering opportunities to live a more fulfilling life.
Whilst we cannot stop difficult experiences happening we can manage them more effectively. CBT shows us how to do just that.
Is CBT purely present focussed?
Whilst CBT is present focused, looking at HERE and NOW situations, it can also, in some circumstances, be helpful to explore and source how our unhelpful thinking habits and behavioural responses developed. Often these can stem from our past experiences.
So often clients will say to me things like “I’m a born worrier” or “I’ve always been miserable”, their belief that they can not change, evoking a sense of hopelessness and pessimism about the future. My response being that, if an adult recalls often being worried or sad in childhood then the likely explanation is that there will have been circumstances that caused those emotions. Getting some clues to their origins and recognising that external factors may have contributed to their worry and sadness can begin to "free" people from these hard-fast and concrete beliefs. Sometimes engendering a more compassionate view of self, a seed of hope that things can change and optimism for the future.
Sometimes it can be invaluable to look to our past for clues.
What difficulties can CBT treat?
CBT has been shown to be effective for treating a range of problems and difficulties. I am skilled and experienced in treating the following conditions:
Anxiety symptoms including panic attacks and agoraphobia
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.)
Worry; also known as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (G.A.D.)
Low Self Esteem
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.), including Pure OCD
Long Term Health Conditions
Work Related Stress
Is CBT effective?
CBT is the treatment of choice for a wide range of psychological difficulties. It has a good evidence base, the research having been reviewed by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).
What you can expect?
In the first instance we would meet for an initial assessment. This would involve spending some time talking about what has brought you to therapy NOW (has there been a particular trigger or a combination of factors) and furthermore, getting a “pen picture” of how whatever is troubling you, is manifesting currently in terms of your thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses and physical sensations. This will then help us to get some clarity, even at the outset, of the main presenting problem, whether that be Low Self Esteem, P.T.S.D., Panic, Social Anxiety, Phobia, O.C.D., Anxiety, Depression, to name just some of the possibilities.
Assuming we are then happy to work together we would collaboratively discuss goals and agree a treatment plan. The number of therapy sessions required is dependent upon the type of difficulty being experienced but typically between 6 and 20 sessions is usual.
CBT is a partnership between us both, the success of our work dependent upon a collaborative approach - you being the expert on your symptoms and what you want to achieve in therapy and me, committing to bringing the scientifically proven expertise in techniques that facilitate change.
An integral part of CBT is the work undertaken in between therapy sessions. Tasks will of course be agreed together and paced accordingly. My aim is for you to become more knowledgeable about yourself, whatever difficulty you are experiencing (eg. panic, low self esteem, P.T.S.D., etc) and ways of breaking the cycles that are maintaining the problem. Homework tasks aid this process. Our aim is for you to become your own therapist, so that when treatment is over you can continue to apply the skills learned in therapy to sustain your recovery.
The majority of treatment will take place in the therapy room, however in treating P.T.S.D. for example therapist accompanied site visits (eg. returning to the site of a road traffic collision) and/or accompanied behavioural experiments (eg. supporting a client with travel anxiety to get back in car, drive on the motorway, etc) have various therapeutic functions. Research shows that clients experience these opportunities positively and I am in a position to offer this as part of therapy.
Therapy is not easy and requires a lot of commitment. Clients have been known to describe my approach as “caring yet challenging”. My belief is, that the more you put into therapy the more you get out of it.