Psychology of us

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (and what I do differently)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) provides the basic structure for my practice. One of the best things about CBT is that it is unashamedly thieving. CBT allows its practitioners to use what works for clients from other theories and therapy models. So I draw skills, techniques, and concepts from CBT, Compassion-Focused Therapy, Affective Neuroscience, and Transactional Analysis. Because everyone is different, I adjust the treatment to fit individual needs. And I provide these services online via Skype. Here´s what this means.

 

Contents:

What is CBT?

How CBT Works

What to Expect in CBT Sessions

What I Do Differently

What is CBT?

CBT is based on the premise that our situation, thoughts, emotions, physiology, and behaviour are interconnected. Changing one of these parts impacts the others. For example, modifying our thoughts alters how we react, our situation, and our mood.

 

CBT suggests that our experiences early in life shape our beliefs about ourselves, the world, and others. These core beliefs stay with us throughout our lives and profoundly affect the way that we think, feel, and act. For instance, an experience such as abuse by a relative may result in an enduring distrust of others. We may feel lonely and want to make friends but whenever people are nice to us, we suspect they have malevolent motives. As a result, we react defensively towards them or push them away. Our negative biases and self-defeating behaviour lead us to feel hopeless and depressed.

How CBT Works

 

CBT helps clients uncover their core beliefs, negative thinking patterns, and self-defeating behaviours. Once recognised, CBT helps clients change them to healthier, more realistic alternatives. CBT is a science-driven approach, using discovery, experimentation, and adjustment to help clients create positive behavioural habits and new ways of thinking. Healthier behaviour reinforces clients’ healthier mindset and they feel better as a result.

 

What to Expect in CBT Sessions

Movies and TV tend to play into one of two stereotypes of psychotherapy:

 

1) Bespectacled Freud-like therapist sits mutely in a large comfortable chair, diligently taking notes (or doodling), while the client faces away and does the majority of the talking.

 

2) Cosy-sweatered affable therapist with endless cups of tea and tissues provides sympathy and supportive statements.

 

Though these types of therapy exist and can be effective, the scene of a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy session would look very different. Interpretation, empathy, and support are essential parts of the CBT process, however, CBT has distinctive aspects:

 

CBT therapists are engaged, interactive and talkative in sessions. CBT sessions resemble more of a conversation than a monologue.

 

CBT is pragmatic. Rather than asking you to talk freely about your life, CBT is structured. It focuses on changing current issues rather than exploring the past. CBT helps you identify specific problems and sets specific goals to help you solve them.

 

Treatment is collaborative. Neither therapist nor client is the expert in sessions. Each client has a unique perspective and knowledge about themselves. Therapists and clients discover the client’s issues together and collaborate to find the most effective ways of addressing them.

You don’t have to do things that you aren’t ready to do or don’t want to do. Sessions go at a pace that feels comfortable and safe for you.

 

Treatment is transparent. The CBT process is not mysterious. Therapists teach clients CBT concepts and skills, empowering clients to practice the skills on their own.

 

CBT uses props. In sessions, I often use pictures, diagrams, reading material, writing exercises, visualisation, tactile exercises, worksheets and hands-on experiences.

 

Treatment doesn’t stop when the hour is over. CBT therapists give homework assignments that help clients to discover new things about themselves and to practice what they have learned in the session. (This helps things move faster!)

What I Do Differently

CBT works by breaking down complex psychological issues into its interconnected parts – thinking, behaviour, feelings, and physiology – and then focuses on the specific elements that aren’t working for the client. Though each element is considered important, CBT techniques focus largely on changing our thinking, behaviour, and physiology (breathing, for example).

 

My professional experience has taught me that sometimes focusing on these elements is not enough. By adding components of Compassion-Focused Therapy, Affective Neuroscience, and Transactional Analysis, I also address difficult emotions, neurological workings, and relational patterns.

Emotions and Compassion-Focused Therapy

Changing the way we think changes how we feel. However, our mood doesn’t always respond to logical thinking. We may tell ourselves that there is nothing to worry about but we feel deeply anxious nonetheless. Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) suggests that we focus directly on changing our emotional state in order to change how we feel. Sounds simple, right?

 

Developing compassion is simple but it’s not easy. CFT draws from Affective Neuroscience, developmental psychology, and Buddhist practices to provide methods that train clients how to cultivate compassion for themselves and others.

 

Compassion not only makes us happier in general, research shows that many psychological conditions significantly improve when treated with CFT. These include anxiety disorders, clinical depression, chronic shame, and post-traumatic stress.

Making sense with Affective Neuroscience

Because of new (and amazing!) brain scan technology, we are able to see how emotions are processed in the brain. These exciting discoveries enable us to explain what happens in our brain when we experience fear, trauma, anxiety and depression. And they allow us to directly target areas that contribute our emotional distress.

 

We know that we can’t change the past or its impact on our brain. But these discoveries demonstrate that we can consciously change our brains in the future. In my practice, using Affective Neuroscience, we can make sense of what’s going on in your brain when you feel distress and we can target the specific areas to help you feel better.

 

If you don’t find neuroscience explanations helpful (some people don’t), we can still use the neurology-based techniques without having to go through all of the neuroscience behind it.

Relating and Transactional Analysis

CBT helps us change our thoughts and behaviour, which ultimately changes how we relate to others. But sometimes we don’t realise how we relate to others, or how our relating impacts our relationships or our ability to get what we want. Transactional Analysis explains how our relational patterns help us or hinder us. Using TA, I can teach you how to improve your communication, your relationships, and your ability to achieve your goals.

Skype therapy

I practise these via Skype, which gives you the added bonus of accessing treatment without travel time, traffic, or waiting rooms from wherever you feel comfortable and safe. Skype therapy just means that we connect from anywhere in the world via the online communication app, Skype. Skype accounts are free and easy to use. Sign up takes about five minutes. Communication requires a webcam and stable Internet connection.

 

Click on the link to read more: Skype therapy.

 

 


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