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Mental Health Matters: Is CBT Right for Me?

With 2021 bringing another lockdown while we’re all still reeling from the effects of 2020, That Nursery Life explains a little about CBT - one of the many options for improving your mental health.

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on managing your mood by changing how you think about problems.

How does CBT work?

CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and actions are all connected, and aims to break down negative cycles that contribute to low mood. It’s a way of focusing on your everyday perception of the world and honing in on how this could be improved.

What is CBT used for?

Studies have shown that CBT can help with a variety of mental health issues, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • Insomnia and other sleep issues

How long does a course of CBT last?

The length of CBT courses can vary, with sessions lasting between 30-60 minutes, lasting between 1-6 months, depending on your individual needs.

What can I expect from undergoing CBT?

The aim of CBT is to find where you need help managing the way you process certain thoughts and feelings and equipping you with a kind of mental toolbox, full of skills and methods you can apply when you notice negative feelings appearing. The idea is that, by the end of your treatment, you have the tools necessary to manage your own thought processes and improve your general mood and wellbeing.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of CBT?

  • Advantage – CBT can be used alongside any mental health medication you may be on
  • Disadvantage – CBT focuses on how you think about issues and doesn’t address wider problems that may cause some of those issues, such as a difficult home life.
  • Advantage - CBT can be done online, at your own pace and when you get the time, meaning you don’t have to commit to set weekly sessions if your schedule is unpredictable.
  • Disadvantage – CBT equips you to change your thinking. Unlike medicine, it won’t work if you’re not willing to put the time and effort in.
  • Advantage - CBT teaches practical strategies that can be applied to issues you are already having, as well as equipping you for any new issues that may arise.
  • Disadvantage – CBT may not be appropriate for more complex issues.
Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

How has CBT worked for others?

David really struggled with the lack of routine outside work during lockdown. He started noticing the signs of depression such as a lack of energy, increased appetite and inability to sleep at night.

While he noticed these issues, he found himself unable to change them as he fell into a vicious cycle of feeling depressed, having no motivation to get jobs done around the house, letting things pile up and then feeling like a failure because of his lack of productivity, leading to feeling more depressed.

During his CBT course, David learned to treat himself more fairly and put less pressure on himself. He learned to understand that the pandemic had affected everyone’s routine and sense of purpose and to challenge the feelings of uselessness when they arose. By changing his thinking bit by bit, David broke down the cycle of negative feelings and was able to feel more positive in his day-to-day life. This led to being able to sleep better, as he wasn’t plagued by as many negative thoughts keeping him up at night which, in turn, allowed for more energy to carry out daily tasks, reducing the feeling of uselessness.

How do I get CBT?

There are a few ways to start Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

Online/app

The NHS website lists a number of apps (ranging in price from free to £30) that offer CBT courses of varying lengths, for you to carry out at your own pace.

NHS

You can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service without a referral from a GP here.

Or you can book in to speak to your GP about referring you to the best therapist/service for your needs.

Private

You can pay for private therapy, usually ranging from £40-£100 per session. The British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) keeps a register of all accredited therapists in the UK here and The British Psychological Society (BPS) has a directory of chartered psychologists here, some of whom specialise in CBT.

This article is intended as a helpful introduction to CBT and may or may not be appropriate to your individual needs. If you are struggling with your mental health, please consult your doctor for advice on the best course of action.