A Guide To… CBT

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Is it the path for you?

CBT. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. It’s one of the most widespread therapies out there for mental illness but can be a pretty daunting concept to someone who doesn’t really know what it is.

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a talking treatment that helps separate thoughts and actions, and teaches you coping mechanisms for these thoughts. It is said to help examine negative thoughts/actions to enable change in the future. CBT can be effective with a wide range of illnesses – from depression and anxiety to BPD and psychosis, due to the flexible nature of the therapy. It can be used in conjunction with medication or other types of longer term therapy.

What happens in a session?

Each session caters towards a person’s specific needs; it could be anything from learning a new mindfulness technique to working through a worksheet alongside your therapist. At the beginning of each session, you fill in two questionnaires, a PHQ-9 and a GAD-7, which track your depression and anxiety since the last session – if it’s your first, it will track your mood in the last two weeks.  Typically, you will set a mutual goal with your therapist at the beginning of the course – in Kent, the NHS deliver a course of 6 sessions – that you want to reach by the end. It can be very intense and uncomfortable at times, especially if you’ve been suffering very severely, as you are completely trying to rewire your brain. As the session comes to an end, the therapist will set you a type of ‘homework’ – things to work on until the next session at home. These can be anything from mindfulness to tackling things you usually avoid.

Should I explore CBT?

I’m not a professional doctor (if only), but if you’re struggling, I’d definitely recommend getting in touch with your GP and enquiring. There’s no harm in trying and it might just work for you!

Things to be wary of

CBT is a short term therapy. The effect ~should~ be long lasting, but if you have some very difficult issues, then a longer term therapy may be more of a benefit to you. It’s also a type of therapy that really requires a clear goal, so if you’re unsure on what you want to achieve then it may not be for you.

**If you or your loved one’s condition is critical, suicidal, or just very worrying, please call 999. You can also contact the Samaritans on 08457 909090 24 hours a day or Mind‘s infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)**

If you need help and support, you can email me (megrrees@gmail.com) or tweet me @megrrees.

Megan xxxx

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