Holistic Hypnotherapy & supervision   

   by Jean Brady  

What is CBT?

CBT is short for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is a therapy that considers the behavioural reaction to our emotions and thoughts, either about ourselves, our environment or other people.

CBT challenges these emotional reactions and thought processes enabling you to alter your thoughts which in turn can change your emotional response and lead to a more positive behavioural outcome.

Cognitive relates to the mind and everything that occurs there. How the mind works, how it constructs and processes thoughts, as well as how it stores information, also how the mind perceives its environment and reaches an understanding of it, it relates to our beliefs and reasoning, thoughts, concentration, dreaming, attention imagination. Cognitive therefore refers to everything that happens in the mind.

Behavioural relates to an action, a reaction or inaction by an individual, it is a response to a stimuli. An example being that if an individual who was afraid of spiders were shown a spider they would react, either by running away = an action, or by becoming totally frozen with fear and unable to run = inaction, but both would be a reaction.

Therapy relates to a systematic approach by a professional who is trained to help you understand and overcome unwanted behaviour.

The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behaviour. For example, a person who spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes, accidents, and other travel disasters may find themselves avoiding air travel. The goal of cognitive behaviour therapy is to help people discover that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment.

The Components of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

People often experience thoughts or feelings that reinforce or compound faulty beliefs. Such beliefs can result in problematic behaviours that can affect numerous life areas, including family, romantic relationships, work, and academics. For example, a person suffering from low self-esteem might experience negative thoughts about his or her own abilities or appearance. As a result of these negative thinking patterns, they might start avoiding social situations or pass up opportunities for advancement at work or at school.

In order to combat these destructive thoughts and behaviours, a cognitive-behavioural therapist, like myself, will begin by helping you to identify your problematic thoughts and beliefs. This process can be difficult sometimes, especially for people who struggle with introspection, but it can ultimately lead to self-discovery and insights that are an essential part of the treatment process.

The second part of cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on the actual behaviours that are contributing to your problem. Here you can begin to learn and practice new skills that can then be put into use in real-world situations. For example, a person suffering from drug addiction might start practicing new coping skills and rehearsing ways to avoid or deal with social situations that could potentially trigger a relapse.

In most cases, CBT is a gradual process that can help you to take incremental steps towards a behaviour change. Someone suffering from social anxiety might start by simply imagining himself in an anxiety-provoking social situation. Next, they might start practicing conversations with friends, family, and acquaintances. By progressively working toward a larger goal, the process seems less daunting and the goals easier to achieve.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an evidence-based therapy, which means that it has undergone rigorous research and has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mood and anxiety disorders. This is why it is the recommended treatment approach by the governments NICE guidelines. The NICE guidelines set out best practice and the most effective treatment approaches for a range of common mental health problems.

What will happen in the CBT session?

You and the therapist work together to initially gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts, feelings and behavioural patterns, which maintain the problems and difficulties you are experiencing. Once you have a good understanding of the problems you can then begin to identify ways of turning things around. It is a problem solving approach, which fosters hope and optimism for each person who enters into a course of treatment, when often problems have previously seemed overwhelming.

What’s the aim of CBT therapy?

The aim of therapy is for you to work with your therapist so that you can identify and develop your new skills and life changes, so that ultimately you become your own therapist, so when problems arise in the future you are equipped to deal with the situation in a new and more helpful way.

What problems can CBT help?

Some types of problems CBT can help:

  • Depression or low mood
  • Anxiety symptoms including panic attacks and agoraphobia
  • Worry (also called Generalised Anxiety Disorder – GAD)
  • Phobias
  • Social anxiety
  • Low self esteem
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical health problems
  • Bereavement
  • Relationship problems
  • Stress management & work related stress
  • Anger
  • Confidence & assertiveness problems
  • Problem solving & decision making and much more.