How can Cognitive Behavioural Therapy help me?
My clients seek out cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for a wide variety of reasons. This therapy has a strong clinical evidence base and as such is commonly used by services such as the NHS to treat a range of common mental health conditions and disorders, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder.
CBT offers a strategy for exploring thoughts and beliefs and to understand these are linked to behaviours, mood and physical reactions.
The primary aim of CBT is to assist and guide individuals to find solutions that work for them, giving them the tools to become their own therapist. With the help of a CBT practitioner, the individual can learn how to apply new skills and techniques to old patterns of thinking and behaving.
CBT also aims to discover how problems are maintained, and challenges the individual seeking therapy to try alternative behaviours and thinking styles.
CBT can explore past traumas and childhood memories, looking at how these are effecting current feelings and thoughts. It can also help with the bereavement process, and current relationship behaviours.
Treatment that utilises CBT generally takes place over a set number of sessions with an assessment, clear goals and reviews in place. If you did decide to embark upon CBT, the initial steps would be to complete an assessment, developing a collaborative treatment plan that looks at common behavioural and thought patterns, as well as practical methods with which to adjust these.
By seeking help, you are taking the first critical step towards change.
Here are some of the areas where CBT can provide support:
Anxiety effects everyone to a certain degree, as a natural response to the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. It evolved to help our survival. But unfortunately in certain cases, it can overwhelm the individual, and even dominate their day-to-day life. If it interferes with daily routines, causing tangible effects such as butterflies in the stomach, avoidance behaviours, panic attacks, or phobia, then professional help should be sought.
There are many different types of anxiety. Some people even have more than one! Identifying both the causes and symptoms of your anxiety is the first part of the process towards overcoming it.
Addiction not only affects the individual involved. It is normal for the addiction to have a knock-on impact on family members, as well as friends and loved ones. I have worked extensively with clients that have shown typical addicted patterns and behaviours; including alcohol abuse, substance misuse, binge eating, and gambling addiction. I also have experience working with relatives to overcome trust issues as a result of a family member’s addictive behaviours, and, in unfortunate cases, resulting bereavements or loss.
Depression is the most common mental health problem that occurs in the population (NICE Guidelines 2008). Cognitive behavioural psychotherapy has been proved to be effective with clients who are diagnosed with mild to moderate depression.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can lead to behaviours that have a negative influence over many aspects of life. Cases can range from mild to severe, and I myself have experience working with those who exhibit hoarding behaviours, obsessive thoughts, or obsessive checking.
While each individual is unique, cognitive behavioural therapy has a long record as a technique to help people suffering with OCD to understand the triggers, behaviours, and destructive patterns. By identifying the root causes underpinning this condition, together we can formulate a treatment plan that looks at challenging negative or damaging behaviours.
Trauma, in essence, is the outcome of a deep, emotional shock. It is a normal response to a situation or incident that is abnormal.
Traumatic events can cause conditions such as PTSD. fear, anxiety, anger, and depression. It can be the result of something like a bereavement, road traffic accident (RTA), a life-threatening incident, recent or past abuse, and domestic violence.
It is generally very helpful to talk about the traumatic incident as opposed to avoiding it. CBT, as a talking therapy, can aid this process. Our initial steps would be to complete an assessment and to formulate a treatment plan. Particularly in cases of PTSD, which can have a severe impact upon an individual’s life, CBT can work to help allay fears and offer strategies to cope with their effects.
Medically Unexplained Illnesses
CBT can also be used to help individuals cope better with the pain and discomfort caused by a range of medically unexplained illnesses or diagnosed conditions. These can include conditions such as fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and interstitial cystitis.