Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a relatively short-term, structured talking therapy. CBT looks at how we think about a situation and how that affects how we feel and act. In turn, our actions can affect how we think and feel. The therapist and client work together to change the client’s thinking patterns, behaviours or both.
The ultimate aim of CBT is that people learn the skills to respond to their own problems in the future.
CBT is widely used by psychologists both in New Zealand and internationally.
Does CBT work?
There is a great deal of research evidence exploring the effectiveness of CBT. This research has been carefully reviewed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom.
NICE provides independent, evidence-based guidance for the NHS on the most effective ways to treat disease and ill health.
What can CBT help with?
NICE recommends CBT in the treatment of the following conditions:
- Anxiety disorders (including panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Schizophrenia and psychosis
- Bipolar disorder
There is also good evidence that CBT is helpful in treating many other conditions, including:
- Chronic fatigue
- Behavioural difficulties in children
- Anxiety disorders in children
- Chronic pain
- Physical symptoms without a medical diagnosis
- Sleep difficulties
- Anger management
ACT, a third wave of CBT treatment.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is sometimes referred to as a “third wave” cognitive behaviour therapy (Hayes, 2004). Like more traditional CBT approaches, ACT works with feelings, thoughts and behaviours. ACT focuses on altering how clients relate to difficult emotions and distress, rather than directly changing them. ACT helps you create a rich, and meaningful life and includes exploration of what is most important to you in life.
CBT can be used if you are on medication which has been prescribed by your GP. You can also use CBT on its own. This will depend on the difficulty you want help with and your preferences.
You and your therapist will discuss your specific difficulties and set goals for you improve the quality of your life. In CBT you will be asked to do things between sessions. Your therapist will be able to advise you on how to continue using CBT techniques in your daily life after your treatment ends.
Mindfulness is an evidenced based approach to enhancing your life. It is not religious – anyone with any belief system can enjoy its benefits. It’s become increasingly common for mindfulness practices to be combined with psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. This development makes good sense, since both mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy share the common goal of helping people gain perspective on self-defeating thoughts.Mindfulness teaches you to live more consciously. To notice your thoughts and behaviours more and gain greater choice in your life.
You will find many definitions for mindfulness, but this is one of our favourites...
“Mindfulness means intentionally paying attention to your present-moment experience with mindful attitudes such as acceptance, curiosity, self-compassion, and openness.” - Shamash Aladina
Lets break this definition down.
Mindfulness isn’t an automatic process. Mindfulness is a process that requires a decision; you need to choose to be mindful.
You can think of attention as focused awareness. Attention is about taking notice, being aware of what’s happening while it is happening.
In the present moment
Without conscious effort your mind wanders to thoughts about the past and future. Of course this can be positive, it’s nice to remember some of the lovely experiences we have had in life and to think about the things we plan to do. But sometimes we can spend time really beating ourselves up about past mistakes and worrying about things in the future. Our thoughts can become stuck in the past or fixated on possible future problems to such a degree that we can’t partake effectively in the here and now, the present moment.
Mindful attitudes of Acceptance, curiosity, self-compassion and openness.
Mindfulness is about paying attention with the right attitude. If your attention is infused with negativity, self-criticism, and judgment, it is not likely to be beneficial. When learning mindfulness you will be given exercises to help you cultivate attitudes of acceptance, curiosity, self-compassion and openness.
How can Mindfulness help?
Practising mindfulness has been shown to help with well being, physical health and mental health (Harvard Health Publications).
Mindfulness improves well being
- Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
- Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
- By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Mindfulness improves physical health
If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can:
- help relieve stress
- treat heart disease
- lower blood pressure
- reduce chronic pain
- improve sleep
- alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
Mindfulness improves mental health
In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:
- substance abuse
- eating disorders
- couples’ conflicts
- anxiety disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder