Making sense of CBT. A guide to what CBT
is and how you can decide whether it’s best for you. If you living with a mental
health problem, it can be hard to know which way to turn or what to do to feel
better. You might go to your GP and one of the first things they might offer is
CBT which stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It combines Cognitive
Therapy – examining the things you think and Behavioral Therapy – examining the
things you do. The word therapy might make you think of laying on a couch talking to a man with spectacles and a beard about your childhood while he
analyzes your dreams. But CBT is actually a very practical type of talking therapy which focuses on goals and focuses mostly on the present day and things
that are affecting you in your life now. The theory behind CBT is that the way we
think about situations can affect the way we feel and behave. It does this by
dealing with how your thoughts affect your feelings and behaviors and teaches
you coping skills for dealing with different problems. For example you might make a simple mistake like burning the dinner. This might make you think bad
things and it might make you feel worthless and inadequate which could
lead you to do things like withdrawing, snapping at your family, or trying to avoid things which you think might go wrong. Or perhaps you’ve been invited out for
drinks with some friends and you start thinking negative things. This might make
you feel anxious and scared which might make you do something like saying no to
the invite, avoiding your friends completely or using drink and drugs to
cope with the situation. Over time, whether it’s years weeks or months, this cycle of thoughts, feelings and behaviors may have happened so many times it’s
become like a habit. You start avoiding situations more and more or automatically blame yourself if something goes wrong and the more you do these things, the worse it can get. A CBT therapist will help you break
this cycle and figure out what sorts of negative feelings, thoughts and behaviors
might be contributing to the problems you are experiencing. They will help you
deal with your negative thinking and help you change your behavior. Both of
which will lead to an improvement in your mood. CBT can be helpful for people with
nearly every diagnoses you can think of and can be delivered through
one-on-one sessions, in groups, self-help books, online or through a CD-rom. That doesn’t mean that CBT works for everyone though. Some people struggle with it because they find it just too hard to talk about their feelings. CBT is usually
quite a short-term treatment and so you may find that your problems are too
complex to deal with in the time. it can also be quite hard work. Your therapist will probably set you homework and you have to really practice the skills they teach you to see a difference in how you’re feeling. If you don’t think CBT is the right treatment for you, you should be able to talk to your GP about what
alternatives there are. The Mind website also has lots of information about the different treatments that are available for a wide range of mental health
problems and Mind’s Infoline line can also talk to you about what you might find helpful.