Nick Gilbert - CBT for PTSD

1. How would you describe CBT? How was your experience of it? What was it like?

To me, CBT is a method of instructing a sufferer on how to deal with the disturbing thoughts and memories by confronting them, facing them down and seeing them for what they truly are. An aberration of thought brought on by experiences we are unable to process.

Initially I found the process to be very hard going. To make it work, i had to put a huge amount of trust in my therapist and this was not easy to do. I'd spent so many years hiding my thoughts and feelings, it seemed odd that someone wanted to know what I felt and thought and why.

2. What did you find most useful?

The thing I found most useful was also initially the most difficult thing to do – talk about the trauma I had. The therapy helped me to examine the worst moments of the trauma and to look at them differently. I created a new narrative of the experience I had suffered many years ago. It included information I had not considered before and hadn’t been able to think through helpfully by myself. I was also able to transform painful images I had from the time. The frequency of the meetings helped immensely. Knowing that I was going to able to share my thoughts and feelings regularly with someone who understood my position and who was non judgemental was a huge help.

3. Was there anything you would have changed about it?

On reflection, no, not really. I found the whole process very uplifting, although, of course at times challenging. I do count myself fortunate to have been able to have had CBT with Dr Wild who was logical and warm. It felt like we put our heads together to sort things out, which helped a lot especially when I was feeling distraught and self-loathing.

4. Did it make any difference to your life? If so, what was different?

I still have my bad days, and i suppose I always will but on balance, the process taught me the difference between my feelings and what was reality.

In my case I had deep feelings of guilt and worthlessness and the process made me realise that how i felt was 'normal' in that anyone who had gone though the experiences i had would likely feel the same. As I now have a good understanding of why I feel as I do, I am better able to deal with that part of my life and move on with greater confidence.

5. What would you say to someone considering having it?

I would say this: How you feel now can change. CBT is not a miracle l cure, it can be hard and painful work at times but it has worked for me and helped thousands of people like me relearn how to live happy and productive lives so take a chance and do it. After-all, what have you to lose?