My CBT experience
First, a little about CBT
CBT aka Cognitive behavioral therapy, is used for treatment of a many different conditions, including
- anger management
- anxiety and panic attacks
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- chronic pain
- drug or alcohol problems
- eating problems
- general health problems
- habits, such as facial tics
- mood swings
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- sexual and relationship problems
- sleep problems.
CBT is a form of talking therapy that combines cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy. It focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life – your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. It then looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel.
CBT theory suggests that it isn’t events themselves that upset you, but the meanings you give to them. For example, if you feel low or depressed, you may think, “I can’t face going into work today. I can’t do it. Nothing will go right.” As a result of these thoughts – and of believing them – you may call in sick. By doing this you are likely to continue to feel low and depressed. If you stay at home, worrying about not going in, you may end up thinking: “I’ve let everyone down. They will be angry with me. Why can’t I do what everyone else does?” Consequently, you may judge yourself as being a failure and give yourself more negative feedback such as: “I’m so weak and useless.”
CBT teaches skills for dealing with different problems. For example:
- If you feel anxious, you may learn that avoiding situations actually increases fears. Confronting fears in a gradual and manageable way can give you faith in your own ability to cope.
- If you feel depressed, you may be encouraged to record your thoughts and explore how you can look at them more realistically. This helps to break the downward spiral of your mood.
- If you have long-standing problems in relating to other people, you may learn to check out your assumptions about other people’s motivation for doing things, rather than always assuming the worst.
Homework – The sessions provide invaluable support. But most of the life-changing work takes place between sessions. You are most likely to benefit from CBT if you are willing to do assignments at home. For example, if you experience depression you may feel that you are not able to take on social or work activities until you feel better. CBT may introduce you to an alternative viewpoint – that trying some activity of this kind, however small-scale to begin with, will help you feel better.
Information taken from www.mind.org.uk
I was referred to CBT during my last bout of depression 6 years ago and unless i just had a poorly trained or just plain terrible therapist, I found it wasn’t for me. It’s why I put the about before my experience so as not to dissuade you against trying it if you feel you may benefit from the therapy, it seems many people have had success with CBT………… I just wasn’t one of them!
So i go to the appointment and as I’ve always had a huge issue with being able to talk to people, especially about myself, the fact that I was on the verge of breaking and was petrified to be the center of attention (even being one-to-one) was terrible. But I went and I gave it my all, answering all her questions, being 100% honest on it all and when we talked about the homework I was to do, I went along with it
Out of all the reasons behind my depression at the time, it was decided that the focus should start on my social anxiety. My fear of meeting new people, in case I do something wrong, talking to people in case I say the wrong thing, I’m sure you understand what I mean and the reason I would avoid being around anyone new. I had explained that it was mostly talking about myself and being able to strike up a conversation that I would have the most trouble with (I’m a one worded answer girl, unless your outgoing and loud and I’ve known you probably a year, then I might relax a little)
My homework was to go to the library and ask for a book ……………… hmm, now I tried to explain that this wouldn’t be a problem, this isn’t really striking up a conversation, its asking a question and I can do that, even then, it’s a case of having to, isn’t it? but this was my homework, so that’s what I went and done. When I go back, she asked me how I felt when I asked for the book, so I said fine and explain again, it’s not that kind of talking that’s a problem, it’s socialising ………
Well before I was due to go again, I had managed to get myself a fulltime job, we were in desperate need for me to work and I was lucky enough that although I’ had time off sick, this company gave me a go. So I rang to re-arrange me appointment for CBT, as the appointments were during work hours. Unfortunately in response to my explaining what hours I was working, I got an answer phone message back to say good luck in the new job ……………. erm what? confused much? ……………. I’m cured then yes? Does she think that because I am now going to get back into the working population, that I’m not longer depressed? That I’m not longer in turmoil within my mind? I guess whe did, I wasn’t though, I couldn’t pick up the phone during the first week even though it was a big part of my job and I couldn’t look at anyone for months, maybe this is why I was on the meds almost 2 years longer than I should have been? do we think?
Soooooooo, when my GP recently spoke to me (repeatedly) about trying CBT, which I’m sure from his side, would seem like the ideal solution and Oh how I wish it was. All I could say is, I found it rubbish. Hopefully when he approaches the subject with me again, I will be in a better state of mind to be able to explain why. instead of the blubbering, trembling idiot he has sitting in front of him at the moment
Now, although I didn’t find it of any use, like I said, many have, so for that reason alone, I am posted links to some useful websites with more information and contacts, however, If your in the UK, your GP can refer you to someone in your area, just have a word with them at your next appointment
Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy
Information and help in finding private or NHS therapists.
Association for Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy
Has a register of therapists and counsellors..
Useful and free self help material, including on CBT.
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
Reports and guidelines on various mental disorders and treatments.
Mind – For better Mental Health