Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CBT is a therapeutic approach built on the principles that changing the way we think and behave can change the way we feel. It recognises that our thoughts, feelings, bodily experience and how we behave are all connected.
Unlike psychodynamic counselling, CBT works with conscious processes with a focus on the here and now, although past experiences are certainly respected and inform the therapy.
CBT can be effective for certain types of depression, and certain types of anxiety such as panic, social anxiety, excessive worrying and OCD. It can also be effective for conditions such as perfectionism and low self-esteem.
A course of CBT with me would typically last 12-18 sessions. Sometimes a follow up session can be beneficial after a course of CBT, or even open-ended counselling. I have three years training in CBT.
We all have thoughts going through our minds all the time. This is normal and is known as automatic thinking.
However, our thoughts are just thoughts and not facts. Often, our thoughts will be biased and wrong, and these distorted thoughts can affect our mood.
For instance, if a friend walks past us without saying hello, we may think we have done something wrong to upset them and as a result we may feel anxious and fed up. In fact, maybe they were simply pre-occupied because they were late for work and didn't notice us.
In CBT we recognise the many ways our thoughts can be wrong, and do exercises to challenge them.
The way we feel can influence how we behave, but also the way we behave can change the way we feel.
If we are sad or depressed we may not want to go out. But if we go out the fresh air and exercise can mean we feel better.
There is an expression 'Action precedes Motivation' and basically it is saying don't wait around for the motivation to come - do it now and you will feel more motivated after!
In CBT we look in detail at your behaviours and then schedule new behaviours to help change the way you think and feel.
in session and homework
CBT is different to counselling because we will normally be sat at a desk and some of our time will be spent doing exercises on paper.
In addition to this we will develop your mindfulness in noticing your emotions and thoughts, and what you experience in your body. We may conduct in-room exercises such as breathing exercises or exposure experiments to overcome different anxieties.
An important aspect of CBT is the homework set for in-between sessions and these are an integral part of the therapy.
We would normally decide together if CBT is the right way forward for you during the assessment phase at the beginning of the treatment course.