I have suggested that there are four aspects to consider when trying to decide if Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) would be suitable for you. Having thought about what you want to get from therapy we’ll now move on to the CBT approach.
2. Does the CBT model make sense to you?
Broadly speaking we understand our experience as relating to the following aspects:
– Our thoughts and beliefs (or cognitions): This is what is in our mind and we may or may not be aware of this at any given time.
– Our feelings or emotions: usually these can be described in one word like happy, sad, angry, anxious, upset etc.
– Our bodily sensations: such as pain, tension, butterflies in the stomach, relaxed and so on; and
– What we do, or don’t do, that is our behaviour, for example avoiding situations, shouting, ruminating, drinking, comforting, socialising etc.
Of course, what goes on for us in the here and now is influenced by our previous experiences. They have shaped our beliefs and assumptions about ourselves, the world and others and in turn influence the way we think, feel and act in the present.
As CBT therapists we seek to make changes in all these areas in order to improve the way we feel. We help you understand how these elements fit together for you and work out how to make a difference to your experience.
However, if you believe that an improvement in your situation can only happen if other people or your circumstances change, then a psychological approach such as CBT which focusses on what changes you can make, might not be right for you at this time. The aim of CBT is to help you make changes in your situation. Nevertheless, this may involve finding the best way for you to deal with givens that you are not able to change so that you can live life to the full.