Talking Things Through: What to Expect from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

26 April 2017
 Categories: , Blog

Whether you've already taken the first step of speaking to a professional about your depression or anxiety, or whether you're preparing yourself to do so, you may have been referred to the idea of undertaking Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — commonly known as CBT.  This sounds complicated and can seem like a scary next step to take.  You may be picturing an intimidating, quiet room with a dark leather couch and an expectation that you'll have to talk for an hour about your childhood.  In fact, this isn't the case at all.  CBT is a simple framework that will help you work through your problems, and it's a very approachable form of therapy.  Here's what to expect.

Targeted Help

CBT is an extremely flexible process.  It employs a basic framework that analyses your negative feelings to help you and your therapist to understand them.  You and your therapist will think specifically about one scenario that makes you feel bad or anxious.  You will examine how and why you experience those feelings — from an emotional standpoint, a mental standpoint and a physical one.  Because this process can apply to any scenario and cover any kinds of feelings, it can be very highly targeted to you and your circumstances.  Everything you discuss will be applicable to you.

Very Guided Sessions

You won't be expected to unload your feelings into a quiet room with no prompting.  CBT is open but very guided.  Your therapist will ask you specific, clear questions.  If you don't know the answer, then that's fine — and because the process is the same every time, you will be able to prepare for a similar question in your next session.  For example, if your therapist asks what physical sensations you experience during a period of anxiety and you haven't paid attention before, it's okay to say so.

Progress is Obvious

CBT relies on getting to know yourself and your reactions and training your body to react in a more positive and helpful way.  To facilitate this, your therapist will help you make a list of things which are difficult for you, and you will work together to improve them.  Because of this, it's very easy to see how well you're doing; you'll see frequent reminders of what you can do now, compared to what you couldn't do before therapy began.

Just like any form of counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy is not a passive process.  You will need to engage with the program and work at it in order to see the benefit — but it's specifically designed with your personal capabilities and limitations in mind.  It's a great option for any depression or anxiety sufferer and manageable no matter how severe or de-energised you may currently feel, which is why it's well worth attempting.  No matter what sort of anxiety or depression help you decide to pursue, know that you're making an important step.