CBT is not a static therapy and with new discoveries about the human mind, it has continued to evolve. In the last decade there has been a shift of paradigm towards what is now called ‘the third wave’ of CBT. New approaches such as Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness CBT (MBCT), which come under the umbrella of CBT, are increasingly being used by therapists in the private sector and in the NHS. I find these approaches to be particularly well suited to individuals experiencing more complex, severe or longstanding psychological problems. These approaches are trans-diagnostic in nature, meaning they can be applied to most problems and presentations. I have come to call this way of working as CBT+.
In CBT+, in addition to standard CBT treatment, a client has the opportunity to develop skills in the following areas:
- identifying internal and external resources to increase psychological resilience
- learning mindfulness skills to help you deal with difficult thoughts
- learning to be more accepting of emotions (increasing tolerance to emotions)
- learning how to be more present
- increasing tolerance to uncertainty
- learning to be more self-compassionate
- learning how to self-soothe
- improving assertiveness skills and learning how NOT to feel responsible for how everybody else is feeling
- understanding the contribution of our past
- if any past traumas have been identified, these can be processed using EMDR (see next page for more on EMDR) so these no longer impact on our feelings
- exploring your values and aspirations, without being distracted by negative thoughts and emotions.
The result often is that the patient gains greater psychological flexibility and has more time and mental energy to put towards things that are meaningful in their life.
Every therapist has their own unique way of working. My therapeutic style is predominantly informed by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, however, depending on the individual needs of the patient, I draw upon concepts from the 'third wave' of CBT such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). Where appropriate, I use body psychotherapy methods and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) to work with previous neglect and trauma. I have come to call my unique way of working as CBT+. Please continue reading if you would like to find out more about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or click here if you would like to move to the next page to read more about EMDR.
Most importantly, however, behind the therapeutic frameworks, I am just an approachable human being.
I enjoy talking to people and helping them make sense of their experiences. My philosophy is that therapy needs to be an enjoyable process and everybody needs to feel safe, comfortable and in control of their own treatment.
The main premise behind CBT is that by changing our responses to our thoughts and behaviours - we can ultimately change the way we feel about life and get ‘unstuck’. What I like about CBT is that it’s a very logical and practical form of therapy and from my experience even the most sceptical of clients come to like this approach.
During the course of therapy, both the client and the therapist become ‘psychological detectives’ and begin to discover the various psychological processes that are maintaining the problem. We explore your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and bodily sensations to understand how they are connected and how they impact on your life. We look into coping strategies and evaluate their effectiveness.
Clients are subsequently taught a number of strategies to help them to overcome their difficulties. These skills are not difficult to learn and get much easier with practice.
CBT is predominantly a here and now therapy, this means it’s rooted in the present and looks ahead to the future, whilst acknowledging the contribution of the past.
CBT has been researched extensively, and has demonstrated effectiveness with a variety of emotional, psychological and psychiatric difficulties. For this reason CBT is considered among the most rapid in terms of results obtained. The average number of sessions clients receive is 8-16. What enables CBT to be briefer is its highly instructive nature and the fact that clients have the opportunity to practice their new skills in between the sessions and actively monitor their progress.