CBT is the therapeutic approach most widely used in the NHS and it is a method which provides clients with a range of strategies that they can use in order to overcome their difficulties.
How does CBT work?
At the beginning CBT is used to help you to understand what is causing your difficulties.
CBT theory suggests that there are a number of different factors that lie behind problems like stress, anxiety, low confidence or depression.
Firstly there are the pressures and triggers that we have to face in every day life – such as having difficult workplace relationships or difficulty in delivering presentations.
How we think is the second key factor. CBT counsellors argue that excessively negative thinking lies at the heart of psychological problems and a fundamental idea here is that how we feel is actually driven by the thoughts that go through our minds. People often have recurrent negative thought patterns that have been with them for many years, and another aspect of CBT is to look for the experiences earlier in our lives that put these negative thought patterns into place.
The third factor looks at the way in which our behaviour might be contributing to how we feel. People who are stressed, for example, often isolate themselves and stop seeing their friends. But socializing with friends is actually something that might help to alleviate stress.
A fourth area, and one that is often neglected, is how psychological problems affect us physically. Stress and depression can cause sleepless nights and leave you feeling exhausted. Headaches, digestive problems, colds, flu and a range of other physical issues can also be problems caused by stress. Feeling physically run down only serves to reduce your ability to deal with the problem and is the last important area to look at when trying to understand a mental health problem.
CBT argues, then, that there are four key areas that drive our mental health difficulties:
• The pressures that we have to deal with
• Our negative thought patterns
• Unhelpful behaviour patterns
• Our physical reactions
I work with you to find a CBT solution for your problems by proposing a series of strategies that will bring improvements in each of the four areas.
When it comes to the pressures, I will look at the changes you can make to ease the pressures you face. People often assume that there is little that they can do to change their situations, but usually there is much more potential for change than we realize.
Working with thoughts is the second vital strategy in CBT technique. Clients with mental health issues usually have constantly recurring negative thoughts, and these thoughts are also usually unrealistic and excessive in their negativity. CBT counsellors show clients how to challenge the negative thought patterns so that they are less intrusive, and to replace them with thinking that is more realistic and positive.
With behaviour the key issue is to identify unhelpful behaviour patterns that are causing painful feelings. I am skilled at spotting these patterns and then helping to replace them with more helpful ways of living life.
Finally I will help you tackle the physical impact of mental health difficulties, e.g.. by showing you effective relaxation techniques and looking at ways of improving health, diet and physical resilience.
CBT provides you with a personalized set of strategies which help you tackle difficulties. These strategies will usually take some practice, but the aim is that you becomes able to resolve your problems.
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