Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an increasingly popular short and medium term therapy that can help with a wide range of mental health problems. Typically, therapy takes 3-6 months although it can also be 8 weeks or less for short-term focused work or longer term when problems are more complex or severe.

The central idea behind CBT is that our thoughts (cognitions) have a powerful influence on how we feel and how we behave. Secondly, what we do (our behaviour) affects how we think and feel.
 

When under mental stress, the way that we view ourselves and what happens to us tends to become more extreme and unhelpful. This leads to us feeling worse and can cause us to behave in ways that maintain our distress. In CBT, your therapist works with you to help you to make the links between what you think, feel and do, and to help you to identify and modify your extreme thinking and unhelpful behaviour. Making these changes can help you to significantly improve how you feel and how you live your life.
 

Who is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for?

CBT can help people with many different problems and has been shown to be particularly effective with the following types of issues: 
 
  • Depression and low mood
  • General Anxiety and stress
  • Panic attacks
  • Post-traumatic Stress
  • Social anxiety
  • Hypochondriasis
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Anger and jealousy management
  • Phobias (flying, claustrophobia etc.)
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleeping problems
  • Relationship problems
  • Work related problems etc.

As a short to medium term therapy, CBT can help you to more usefully manage long term complex and deeply entrenched problems and clients can often learn useful principles and techniques that can significantly improve quality of life and lead to further progress being made in the future. 
 

What happens in sessions?

When you first come for CBT your therapist will carry out an assessment during which you describe your problems and agree goals that you want to work towards. You will also be asked to fill out forms evaluating your moods, behaviour and other symptoms. This allows detailed information to be collected and helps your therapist gain a clearer understanding of your problems.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy sessions are held once a week at a mutally agreed time and last for one hour. It is quite common in later stages of treatment for sessions to be held fortnightly and to become less frequent as treatment is gradually phased out.

CBT differs from other types of therapy in the following ways:
 
  • Sessions are highly structured - rather than talking freely in each session, an agenda is agreed which sets out what will be focused on each week. In the early stages, the therapist mostly suggests what goes on the agenda. As treatment progresses, you learn the principles and are encouraged to take more responsibility for putting items on the agenda, so becoming empowered to work independently.
  • Focuses mainly on the present - whilst problems may have originated earlier in life, therapy concentrates mostly on how problems are kept going in the present. CBT does not ignore the past but takes proper account of how past experiences have shaped our beliefs about ourselves, our beliefs about others and our patterns of behaviour. Therapy may include restructuring the way you view past experiences in more helpful ways.   
  • Problem focused - therapy identifies individual problems and focuses on solving these according to your goals and priorities. A variety of common sense and easy to use tools, skills and principles are provided which you will be able to use to solve problems on your own in future.
  • Formulation driven - the therapist works collaboratively with you to draw up a diagrammatical representation (formulation) of your problems, which helps to clarify understanding and identify the links between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. This may be highly individualised and more complex when problems are severe and may include simple vicious cycles that illustrate how a problem is maintained today. 
  • Follows a treatment plan - using the formulation as a guide, the therapist draws up a treatment plan that is discussed and agreed with you.
  • Includes self-help homework - doing homework is an important part of CBT and allows you to put into practice, or try out, what you learn in therapy sessions in the real world. Research has shown that people who complete homework assignments get better more quickly and stay better longer. Homework is agreed at the end of sessions and typical tasks include:
         1. Keeping track of moods, thoughts and behaviours
         2. Scheduling activities
         3. Developing goals
         4. Challenging negative thoughts
         5. Collecting information
         6. Changing the way you communicate with others
         7. Experimenting with other new ways of behaving
         8. Other assignments etc.
 
For more information on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy see www.babcp.com.
 

The next step

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is available in Thriplow (near Cambridge and Royston).
If you would like to make an appointment or would like further details, please contact Wendy by telephone: 01763 208916 or email.   If I am unable to come to the phone an answer machine will be in operation. Please do leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible.

I will be pleased to arrange an initial session during which you can discuss your concerns and decide whether CBT is right for you. If our services do not seem appropriate, we will be happy to discuss other options and to assist you in locating alternative services.