At Achieving Balance, I offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as one of several talking therapy approaches. CBT aims to help you to develop strategies to break the vicious cycles that maintain your difficulties. CBT is collaborative – we work together as a team to help you overcome your challenges, whether you are suffering from emotional issues, such as anxiety or depression, or would simply like to work on your personal development.
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
CBT is highly structured, with mutually agreed agendas being set, not only for the therapy treatment as a whole, but also on a session-by-session basis. This helps to keep the therapy focussed and the duration of therapy to a minimum, sometimes allowing very specific difficulties to be worked through within a matter of a few sessions.
More complex or entrenched difficulties may take longer, but the intention is always to work as briefly as possible. Insights from sessions are not usually enough to bring about long-lasting change and therefore clients and therapists agree tasks and activities to be undertaken between sessions. For CBT in more detail, you can read my CBT article here.
We Feel the Way We Think
A very simplified but useful CBT expression is “we feel the way we think”. In other words, the way we feel about an event is largely dictated by our perception of the event rather than the event itself. This is not to say that negative feelings can be extinguished by positive thinking – if only! When something bad happens we will naturally feel bad – this is part of the way human beings process an event in order to be able to eventually move on. However, CBT suggests the intensity or quality of the bad feeling is, by and large, dictated by our perception of the event.
Is CBT for You?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be extremely effective but, like all talking therapies, it’s not for everyone. If you believe your issues will only be resolved through an extensive and lengthy examination of your past, then other therapies might be better suited to you. Do you think you can “suspend your disbelief” and be open-minded enough to try out different ways of thinking and behaving, just to see if these can make a difference? Do you think you are motivated enough to carry out between-session tasks? Are you prepared to be open with your therapist if you have misgivings about the therapy so that you can both have a frank discussion to try and resolve the issues? Do you think that, with some help, you would be able to be specific about the problems you are experiencing – CBT is problem-focussed and goal-orientated and therefore both have to be specified in enough detail to ensure you and your therapist have a shared understanding of what is wrong and what you want to be different. CBT is most definitely a team effort and is therefore a therapy that is done with you, not to you.
In fact, the aim of CBT – over time – is for you to become your own therapist, taking control of the process and being able to more confidently take on the challenges life inevitably presents. Part of this process is an acceptance that, while outside factors may have significantly contributed to your current difficulties, it is ultimately your responsibility to improve matters. This can be a frightening prospect but it can also be very freeing and empowering when you realise you can stop relying on others to make things better for you.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at Achieving Balance
If you are interested in trying Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I recommend you call several CBT therapists to see which one seems most suitable for you and your needs. At Achieving Balance, I offer a free 20 minute telephone consultation. If we agree that I might be able to help you, we will arrange an assessment appointment. This is a get-to-know-you session where you can ask any further questions about my practice and I can begin to get a more rounded picture of you, the difficulties you are experiencing and your hopes for therapy. We can then agree a way forward in terms of an initial number of sessions and goals for therapy. We will then meet on a regular, pre-determined basis for our sessions.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy should feel like a coherent course of treatment rather than a series of random unconnected sessions. Indeed, regular attendance is one of the best predictors for a successful therapeutic outcome. Initially, we might agree to meet weekly, with sessions spreading further apart as therapy progresses and you begin to “take the reins” of your treatment. At the end of each predetermined block of sessions, we will review progress and decide how to proceed. While it is important to have regular sessions, these can be booked around your life and so they can be at different times and days and may include Skype or telephone sessions if you are unable to make face-to-face sessions.
If you are interested in a free, 20-minute consultation, please feel free to contact me on 020 7096 8854 or you can contact me online. I am available from 7.30am to 8.30pm Monday through Friday, and Saturday mornings.