Copyright © 2014 Dr Alex Fowke. All Rights Reserved.
Pioneered in the 1960s by Aaron T. Beck in the USA as a way of understanding and treating
depression, CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented and problem-focused psychological intervention
that explores how your thoughts and behaviours relate to and influence the way you feel, and how
these elements might contribute to your problems. This can be best summarised by Epictetus, a
Greek philosopher (55AD-135AD), who said: "Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which
they take of them". Essentially, it's not necessarily what happens to us, but rather it's how we
interpret situations that can create emotional pain and suffering. Therefore, if we change the way
we think and how we behave we can change the way we feel, and therefore we can create new
possibilities for our future.
CBT is grounded in psychological theories of learning. These propose that behaviours are learned and
therefore can be changed by breaking associations and consequences. Patterns of thinking and ways of behaving
are likely to have been effective at some point. However, problems tend to occur when these thoughts patterns
aren't regularly 'updated' to fit with life as it is now, ultimately becoming completely detrimental and getting in the
way of us living a productive life.
There is an extensive evidence-base demonstrating the effectiveness of CBT as a highly-effective talking therapy for a
number of conditions and is recommended by NICE in the treatment of mental health problems, including:
CBT can help you to develop a greater awareness of the link between the way you think and how you feel, and how these are influenced by the experiences that you have had throughout the course of your life. We will use our time together in our sessions to discover these links, and how these are associated with a deeper belief system (core beliefs). Further to understanding these patterns, traditional CBT aims to explore ways of breaking these cycles, by changing unhelpful thinking patterns and dysfunctional coping strategies and teach you the therapeutic skills to help you to develop a more realistic and balanced way of thinking. Therefore, by changing the way you think and behave, you can actually change how you feel.
A CBT approach usually focuses on your difficulties in the 'here-and-now', and relies on us developing a shared view of your problem(s) and personalised, time-limited therapy goals. In order to work towards your personal therapy goals, CBT makes use of specific technical interventions and interview styles to identify and evaluate unhelpful thought patterns and dysfunctional coping strategies. These interventions are the combination of behavioural principles - the 'B' in CBT (what you do) - and cognitive strategies - the 'C' in CBT (how you think).
We will discuss and practice a range of CBT strategies and you will use these strategies as a 'tool kit' to use after therapy has ended to prevent unhelpful patterns of behaviour from re-emerging. CBT also emphasises the importance of practicing newly-acquired skills between sessions, so we will discuss in our meetings appropriate 'homework' tasks for you to complete in order to help you to imbed your new learning and to put the theory into practice.
CBT may be the appropriate treatment for you if you:
are looking for a practical problem-solving approach to overcome an identified problem
are able to identify a target or goal to achieve
are motivated to put in the time and effort required to work on your problem