Chris Winson - CBT for depression

When writing this post BABCP gave some suggestions to help structure it. The first suggestion was an interesting one – How would you describe CBT ?

Hard. Revealing. Challenging. Painful.

Sound like something you would do?

Well let me add to those words. Understanding. Compassionate. Life-affirming. Worthwhile.

CBT is not about turning up and talking. You do talk – and the more you talk openly and honestly the more the therapist can help and guide you. But it’s also doing.

It’s doing research beforehand (if private) on the therapist. Look for the BABCP accreditation. Have a look at their website to get a feel for what they offer. Don’t try to understand too much of the different abbreviations that might be quoted, although it is helpful to see that they use a range of techniques, which means they should be able to formulate the appropriate help for you.

It’s doing preparation for each session to help you think. For the initial sessions it’s hugely helpful to write down as much as you can about what is happening, how you feel and how it impacts you. In the sessions it can be very easy to get lost, become emotional or forget to say something. Writing it down can help with that.

It’s doing the practices, the suggestions and the recommendations from the sessions. Trying to work at them in-between each session and being honest with yourself how well that is going.

It’s doing small changes, to thinking and behaviour. Don’t expect immediate change or CBT will make things all Disney flowers and birds overnight. Small incremental steps are more achievable and sustainable.

CBT may not be for everyone, however it has been immensely beneficial to many. It is useful to be able to talk with someone, who does not judge, compete with you on how bad things are or offer immediate solutions. A good therapist will make you feel like you are not in therapy , but rather talking and guided by someone who has your best interest at heart. They should explain any suggestions they make and gently direct how you can apply that to your individual circumstance.

So why use the first 4 words to describe it ? Because it is hard, to really think about thoughts that you may have hidden away for years. It’s challenging to change behaviours that have been formed from habits which you thought were helping. Because the more you reveal the more pain you expose. A good therapist will help you to manage that pain, to guide you through it and help build different thinking patterns and behaviours.

Did it make a difference to me ? Yes. It allowed me to understand I wasn’t alone in the way I thought, that I could learn to manage depression. It enabled me to really encourage and be gentle with myself, rather than be critical and judgemental. That I was doing the best I could and that was okay. It opened up learning opportunities connected with the therapeutic discussions, allowing me to understand more my thinking.

It stopped me feeling alone. It gave me hope.

The last suggestion from BABCP was “what would I say to someone else about CBT ?” For me it helped by providing skills that will make a long term difference to my wellbeing and life. It may or may not do the same for you, we are all individual. However CBT recognises that individuality and uses evidence based approaches to help guide you. It’s not magic and it’s not easy. From my experience it’s worth giving it a try.