I mean, what even is CBT?!?
The NHS website describes it as a talking therapy, helping you address and manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. Sounds a bit wishy washy to me……
Let’s go over the basics and what we do know, and try to break it down so it’s relatable and understandable to everyone (not just those who hear the phrases and terminology day in and day out). CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy, thoughts, behaviours, emotions and physiological factors can influence the way we behave and/or act in (some times) day to day situations. Let me put this into context, if I think ‘I am a failure’ over and over, and start to believe we are a failure, we start to exhibit behavioural patterns such as withdrawing from friends, family, social events, work colleagues, and we beat ourselves up about this, we start to experience a whole range of negative emotions such as frustration, anger, and sadness, and in turn, could trigger a physiological response to our bodies, such as heart palpitations, lack of energy, loss of appetite.
I hope CBT, and what it is is making a little more sense now?
Within CBT Therapy, I work with a range of clients to discover all that we have talked about above, in an individual form, with an individual plan to tackle these feelings and difficulties. Each plan is individual to each Client, and this is what I, (and us Therapists) refer to as a formulation. Once we have established why these feelings are there, what is triggering them and made joint discoveries, we then work together to gain insights into how they are maintained and manage the problem.
Patients suffer from a variety of symptoms, from anxiety, work related stress, OCD, panic disorder, depression, low self esteem and many many more. There really is a long list of difficulties and/or disorders which can be addressed and helped by CBT.
How do we make this work?
In all honesty it is hard work, there isn’t an easy fix or a miracle pill. Therapy requires a commitment from every client, and from me as your Therapist, working together we can aid change, starting with small steps and moving onto bigger areas to tackle. This is done at a pace that we are both comfortable with - with me firmly (but not too firmly) guiding and nudging in the direction you want to go.
By understanding difficulties and/or disorders and how they function and fester, and allow us to change our behaviour this enables me, and you, to look at changes, that, working together will be life long changes.
Change includes changing your thought patterns and behaviours, having a positive impact and a shift in your emotions and physiological symptoms (that we discussed earlier). I know this can sound so scary and overwhelming, but you are not alone. We tackle this together, as a team. And, if you are reading this and thinking about engaging in CBT, then I can guarantee what you are currently experiencing is both scary and overwhelming and we can fix that.
So, thoughts…the night time thoughts? the social function coming up thoughts…. they lie. We can have thousands of thoughts per day yet we only attach to certain ones. We cannot believe everything that we think. My partner is cheating on me, the sky is red, that is a circle not a ball, I am a failure, I am not good enough, I don’t deserve that promotion - the list goes on, and we have all been there.
We all have self doubt, and just because we have those thoughts, does not mean they are automatically true and they define us. They don’t, and they shouldn’t. But having those thoughts over and over, of course anyone would begin to believe and it is understandable this act as if this thought is true. Notice how I said understandable not acceptable? This is because it is not acceptable to just believe these thoughts, slowly they will take over, impact your day to day life, decision making, connections with others and most importantly the way in which you feel about yourself.
Furthermore, the way in which we behave can reinforce these thoughts. Not seeing friends, not engaging, having no enjoyment and isolating can make this thought seem bigger and more believable.
Ever heard of the cycle of change?
If not, have a nosey. Google it.
Brief overview, this cycle can be used to look at your readiness to change. Your readiness to engage in healthier, more positive behaviours and thinking. You can fluctuate between stages. Ever had the thought ‘I need to go on a diet, get fit and exercise so I can lose weight’. Although you know you want this, you may also want to lie on the sofa and eat chocolate bar (only dairy milk straight out the fridge though). The cycle has six stages.
Then, sadly, the cycle can start again. This is the same with therapy, and this is what I can help you with. You may be in one of these stages thinking about your difficulties and what you are currently facing, or what you have been wrestling with for some time. That is ok. The most important stage is you are aware of the problem, that in itself is a huge achievement and should be acknowledged. You may not be ready to move into another stage yet, life can get busy, time slips away, that is life - but when you are ready - I am here to help and to guide you through the plan (we make together) to get you in a more positive place.
The reason I have mentioned this cycle, is because it is useful to be aware of where you are at and how this relates to you and the possible journey we can go on together in seeking therapy.
So, what is CBT? Simply, it is a tough but rewarding journey of life changing insights into how you can proactively push those negative thoughts that can feel all-consuming and get you back to a positive place . P.S. It does involve homework, I promise it is not writing essays. But it does involve doing tasks between sessions to aid with your recovery.
If you would like further information on the Therapy I provide, or would like a chat don’t hesitate to reach out. You are not alone, and together we can form a treatment plan to get you through these tough times.