Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

How useful or effective is Psychotherapy for the treatment of psychological problems or problems of living. Would you recommend it to your friends who had a few issues or to someone in the depths of depression? If you have had psychotherapy you are in the minority of people who have sought treatment for your problems. Most people with depression for example don’t seek any type of treatment. If you went for talk therapy there are numerous types to choose from. The following is a list of some of the most common forms of therapy

•    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
•    Psychoanalysis
•    Counselling
•    Behaviour Therapy

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is the most common and effective therapy for the treatment of depression, anxiety and related illnesses. It’s also being applied in an ever increasing range of disorders such as schizophrenia and addiction problems. It’s based on the premise that if we can change the way we think we can change the way we feel. It teaches that disorders are reinforced or in some cases caused by dysfunctional thoughts and if we can change to more rational alternatives we will start to feel better. Unlike psychoanalysis CBT is not entrenched in past or childhood experiences although it is recognised that dysfunctional thoughts often start in childhood and that we are shaped by our past experiences. Instead CBT is about changing how you feel today based on what you are thinking today. Because of it’s popularity CBT can be hard to come by and public waiting lists are long in many countries. Private treatment is available and can be expensive but if you can afford it it’s worth it because mental health is one of the best and most important things you can enjoy if not the most.
Depending on your condition the frequency of sessions will vary and thus the cost. Typically a private therapist may require to meet for sessions every 2 to 3 weeks.
CBT is different from other forms of therapy in that the emphasis is on giving back control of mental well being back to the sufferer

Tips on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

  •  Work hard on your homework. In CBT the work is done by you outside the therapy sessions. The    therapist should be seen as guide on the road to recovery not as some sort or fixer or healer who does his/her magic during the therapy sessions.
  • A therapist will often recommend a book to work on as part of your treatment and this book will        sometimes be used as the basis for the work you do between sessions. If you are waiting a number of months for your first session find out the name of the book and get it. Read it and familiarise yourself with the treatment in advance
  • If you are very Depressed CBT will probably not be that effective in treating you until your mood has lifted somewhat because you will simply be too low for the intervention to effect your mood. Your doctor or therapist will be in the best position to make this judgement. Don’t write off using CBT as your severe depression lifts.
  • Email your homework to your therapist in advance of your sessions. This means he/she will have had time to read it in advance of your session and less time is spent going over what has being done since the last session and more time can be spent on moving forward. The 50 or 60 minutes that you have with your therapist should be maximised. It’s also wasteful to spend this time ruminating or complaining how tough live is. You need to spend this time discussing solutions to your problems and planning a way forward
  • Make a short list of issues you want addressed at the next session and bring them up at the meeting. Compile this list over time between sessions. This will help focus you and your therapist on what your problems really are that effect you on a daily basis.
  •  Define a set of goals that you want to achieve from therapy. For example
  1.     Alleviate Depression  ( Learn to live with it )
  2.     Improve Self Confidence
  3.     Reduce Anger
  4.     Improve relationship
Show this to your therapist at the first session and he/she can discuss how realistic this is to achieve and in what timeframe.You can review this after a certain period to establish if the therapist and the form of treatment is right for you. If you are not making progress on your goals you may need to change things. Don’t be afraid to be open and discuss progress with your therapist and don’t be afraid to change therapist if there is a consistent lack of progress.

Basically the more effort you put into CBT the more benefits your will reap from it. Once your sessions are over with your therapists you can continue to practise CBT on a daily basis. The idea is that you perform the CBT techniques on the fly as everyday challenges occur in your life. In effect you will apply alternative rational thoughts automatically. 

You will know the CBT is working for you if you start to feel better before you feel bad…….