What is CBT?
CBT, or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a talking therapy. It is an evidenced based therapy - meaning that a great deal of research has been conducted, proving it’s helpful impact on many areas such as: anxiety, depression, OCD, Panic disorder, Schizophrenia & psychosis, Bi-polar disorder, anger, chronic pain, sleep, stress, eating disorders and substance misuse.
CBT in a Nutshell
We are interpreting our experiences all day everyday, and some of these interpretations are skewed, too rigid and incorrect. What we then think impacts on what we feel and do. We then set up unhelpful maintenance cycles (vicious cycles if you like). CBT helps to turn these vicious cycles into virtuous (helpful cycles).
Some Basic Information
The CBT model of anxiety is that we tend to overestimate the threat or danger and we underestimate our ability to cope. We then tend to avoid or embrace safety-seeking behaviour. In other words, we think that something bad is going to happen and that we’ll feel overwhelmed and won’t be able to cope. Once we interpret a threat, the body’s alarm system then sends an adrenaline response and this prepares us for flight or fight. Our heart beats faster; we can sweat, feel dizzy, breathless and even experience a sense of choking. Our ability to concentrate is also reduced. The problem is, that we are not always in a fight or flight situation, and many times we are experiencing ego discomfort (i.e. what do I, others and the world thinkof me?) or emotion discomfort (feeling like we cannot tolerate embarrassment, anger or upset), however, we have already sent the message to our brains that “something awful” will occur, and so we feel very uncomfortable physically and emotionally, and this is because our threat system has gone off. We can usually tolerate emotion and ego discomfort, but we are used to telling ourselves that it is 100% awful and we cannot stand the discomfort. We have set up a vicious cycle.
CBT starts by asking if the threat really is a threat and then helpful behaviour - such as deep breathing, taking things slowly and addressing the issue rather than avoiding it is encouraged. CBT teaches us to break the thinking and behaviour maintenance cycle.
Panic Disorder –
Panic attacks result from the “catastrophic misinterpretation” of bodily or mental events. We misinterpret these events as a sign of immediate impending disaster, such as the sign of having a heart attack, passing out, suffocating or going crazy. Again, the starting point is to question the interpretation and couple this with helpful behaviour. A panic attack starts off as high anxiety.
Depression – some basic information
The Depression Model
Experience a sense of loss – failure
Core belief: negative view of self, daily life & future
Underlying assumptions: pessimistic, hopeless
Strategies: withdrawal, inactivity
Automatic thoughts: negative
What is Depression?
Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.
Depression affects people in many different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms.
The symptoms can range from lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful and anxious.
There can be physical symptoms too such as constantly feeling tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive and complaining of various aches and pains.
There is no single cause of depression; you can develop it for different reasons. Depression has many different triggers, for some, an upsetting or stressful life event, such as bereavement, divorce, illness, isolation and loneliness, job loss or money worries. When such stressful events are experienced you have a higher risk of becoming depressed. People often talk of a “downward spiral” of events that leads to depression.
CBT helps to rework the negative bias in your thinking, and introduces more helpful behavioural responses to assist in breaking the depression maintenance cycle.