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CBT is a very structured talking therapy. It has a holistic approach, addressing all aspects of a person’s life, and how each part impacts on the other. It is goal based, aiming to challenge and change patterns of behaviour that keep the beneficiary in a negative state of mind. It also helps them to be more objective about the issues that are causing them distress.
My experience of CBT was very positive. It was a collaborative process, working closely with the therapist. The sessions became less like therapy and more of a learning experience. The therapist suggested articles I might read that were relevant to my situation. She gave me handouts relating to my issues. There was a lot of discussion and I had a lot of questions as the sessions progressed. She set me tasks to do and homework to complete. This was a first for me. I felt engaged and part of the whole process, rather than an impotent spectator, as with previous talking therapies.
The therapist had a warm, friendly demeanour, while still being professional. She had a way of putting me at ease, which was integral in making the treatment work.
The whole format of each session worked so well for me. However, having specific practical tasks and homework set for me, away from the sessions, was a great help too. The more I read, the more empowered and capable I felt of looking after myself. My anxieties had much less hold over me. I also looked forward to the ensuing discussions with my therapist about the progress I was making under my own steam. The work I did both with my therapist, and on my own, were of equal importance to my ever improving mental health.
I feel very fortunate that the CBT I received was perfect for me. Looking back I don’t think I would change anything about it. It was a remarkable experience for me.
CBT revolutionised my recovery. I felt able to cope. I had developed the tools to help me deal with ongoing negative thoughts. I stopped catastrophizing and searching out every unlikely disaster. For the first time in many years I felt optimistic and able to look forward. I was also able to look back at past traumatic experiences, without being overwhelmed by them. It was history and couldn’t be changed, so why allow it to dominate the present? CBT opened my eyes to a different way of being; a different way of viewing the world. For the first time I genuinely loved who I was. It was good to be me. It was exciting. I was happy. My entire skewed outlook on life has made a 360 degree turn, and it feels brilliant.
I can only speak very highly of my own experience of CBT. If I was to talk to anybody considering it, but who wasn’t convinced, I would gladly tell them about my own journey and definitely recommend that they give it a try.