This week we welcome Tina from Mothergeek and GirlsGospel! She’s here to talk about cognitive behavioural therapy and how it can help you overcome life’s challenges.
Carrying on from last weeks post, Tina discusses what cognitive behavioural therapy typically looks like. For many, the thought of attending therapy can be terrifying. I know of several people in my own life who simply refuse to see a therapist. But the question is why? There could be a multitude of reasons as to why people avoid therapy including a fear of the unknown, and even a misunderstanding about what therapy is. One of the most popular answers I face from people is that talking simply doesn’t do anything.
But, in fact, talking is only the starting point!
How Does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Work? Will It Really Help Me?
If you’re struggling with a mental health issue like anxiety or depression, you may have heard of CBT. But what exactly is it and how does it work? And, perhaps most importantly, will it really help you?
What is CBT?
Firstly, let’s break down what CBT actually is. In short, CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours, helping us to change the way we view situations. The idea behind it is that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are all interconnected, and by changing one, we can improve the others.
How Does CBT Work?
Knowing what CBT actually is doesn’t immediately answer many people’s questions about this particular form of therapy, so let’s take a look at how CBT works in practice.
Typically, when you start your CBT journey, you’ll work with a therapist who will guide you through the process. There will be several sessions which will take you through a framework designed to help you identify and challenge thoughts.
CBT starts with you identifying negative thought patterns such as “I’m not good enough” or “Everyone hates me” and then taking the time to process and unpack them. Once you’ve established the negative thoughts that affect you, you can then work on challenging these thoughts and replacing them with more positive ones. In a nutshell, that’s pretty much the answer to the question, “how does CBT work”.
Challenging Thoughts and Behaviours.
CBT can be great for those suffering from anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety. Often those suffering from social anxiety will have negative thoughts about themselves because they’ve made the assumption that others are judging them, for example, thinking “everyone at this party is judging me”.
When talking to your therapist, they will encourage you to question that thought. They might ask you to think about times when people have been friendly or accepting towards you or to consider that other people at the party are more focused on their own conversations and not even paying much attention to you.
In addition to working on thought patterns, CBT also involves changing your behaviours. This might involve practising relaxation techniques to help manage anxiety, or gradually exposing yourself to situations that make you anxious, in order to build up your tolerance. For example, a mum struggling with social anxiety in the playground could challenge herself to seek out another parent in her child’s class and introduce herself.
Does CBT Work for Everyone?
How CBT will work for you depends on the way your brain is wired. Everyone’s experience with therapy is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. So if you’re wondering, does CBT work for everyone? The short answer is no.
However, that being said CBT has been shown to be effective for various mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). So we can’t tell you CBT works for everyone. It depends on the individual, how much effort they put in and sometimes, other conditions they may have.
So, Will CBT Really Help You?
One of the reasons that CBT works so well is because it teaches you practical skills and tools that you can use in your everyday life. You will learn to recognise negative thought patterns and learn specific techniques to help manage them.
Another benefit of CBT is that it’s typically a shorter-term therapy compared to other forms of therapy. While the exact number of sessions will vary depending on your individual situation, CBT is often structured as a set number of sessions (for example, 12 sessions over 3 months). This can make it feel more manageable and less overwhelming for people who are worried about being in therapy indefinitely.
Final thoughts on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Of course, like any type of therapy, CBT is not a magic cure-all. It takes effort and commitment on your part to see results. You’ll need to be willing to work on changing your thought patterns and behaviours outside of therapy sessions, and be patient with yourself as you navigate the process.
It isn’t always pretty, and sometimes CBT can make us aware of thoughts and feelings we weren’t aware that we had. However, this is all part of the healing journey.
If CBT sounds like it could benefit you, the best thing to do is to speak to your GP and get more information about the types of treatment available to you. GP’s are often able to refer you or guide you in the right direction when it comes to finding a licensed CBT therapist in your area.