Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in Plymouth
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT stresses the importance of behaving in ways that challenge negative thoughts and unhelpful beliefs. CBT helps you examine some of the beliefs you have about yourself, often as a result of early experiences, to see your situation in different ways and to build up coping skills.
It is effective for people who suffer from mild to moderate depression, anxiety, panic, low self esteem, low confidence, anger and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Our cognitive processes are our thoughts which include our ideas, mental images, beliefs and attitudes. Cognitive therapy is based on the principle that certain ways of thinking can trigger certain health problems. For example, anxiety, depression, phobias and some physical problems.
The therapist helps you to understand your current thought patterns. In particular to identify any harmful, unhelpful or 'false' ideas or thoughts that you have that can trigger your health problem or make it worse.
The aim is then to change your ways of thinking to avoid these ideas and to help your thought patterns to be more realistic and helpful.
Behaviour therapy aims to change behaviours that are harmful or not helpful. Various techniques are used. For example, a common unhelpful behaviour is to avoid situations that can make you anxious. In some people with phobias the avoidance can become extreme and affect day to day life. In this situation a type of therapy called 'exposure therapy' may be used. This is where you are gradually exposed more and more to the feared situation. The therapist teaches you how to control anxiety and to cope when you face up to the feared situations. For example, by using deep breathing and other techniques.
CBT is a mixture of cognitive and behaviour therapies. They are often combined because how we behave often reflects how we think about certain things or situations. The emphasis on cognitive or behaviour aspects of therapy can vary depending on the condition being treated. For example, there is often more emphasis on behaviour therapy when treating obsessive compulsive disorder (where repetitive compulsive actions are a main problem). Where as when treating depression the emphasis may be more on cognitive therapy.
As a rule, the more specific the problem the more likely CBT may help. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a practical therapy which focuses on particular problems and aims to overcome them.
What is likely to happen during a course of CBT?
The first session of therapy will usually include time for the therapist and you to understand fully the problem. This is to identify how our thoughts, ideas, feelings, attitudes and behaviours affect your day to day life.
You should then agree a treatment plan and goals to achieve and the number of sessions likely to be needed. Each session will last around 50 minutes and you will meet with your therapist weekly to begin with. It is common to have between 10 and 15 sessions but this will vary depending on the nature and severity of the condition.
You have to take an active part and carry out any homework set between sessions.
What is the difference between CBT and other talking therapies?
Unlike some other types of therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy does not involve 'talking freely', nor does it dwell on events in your past to gain insight into your emotional state of mind.
CBT tends to deal with the 'here and now' - how your current thoughts and behaviours are affecting you now. It recognises that events in your past have shaped the way that you currently think and behave. In particular thought patterns and behaviours learned in childhood. CBT does not dwell on the past but aims to find solutions to how to change your current thoughts and behaviours so that you can function better in the future.
What are the limitations of CBT?
CBT does not suit everyone and it is not helpful for all conditions. You need to be committed and persistent in tackling and improving your health problem with the help of the therapist. It can be hard work. The homework may be difficult and challenging and you may be taken out of your comfort zone when tackling situations which cause anxiety or distress. However, many people have greatly benefited from a course of CBT.
If you have any questions on CBT or counselling and psychotherapy,
do ask me and I will do my best to answer them for you.