Welcome to the modality series, a series of blogs where I share the why, what and how of the modalities I use to help my clients. The goal with these posts is to give you a better understanding of the professional tools available out there for you to improve your wellbeing. And how, by combining these tools, I can help you overcome struggles that might weigh you down.
Today I want to focus on a therapy that combines psychological intervention with tangible behavioural actions to reduce and remove mental roadblock in our thinking.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
The goal of CBT is to learn, challenge, and change negative thought patterns that have a damaging effect on our emotional health. These often increase the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
They’re also often the only thing standing between us and our goals are our self-limiting thoughts.
The thought behind CBT is that negative thinking is a habit. And like any other habit, you have the power to change and stop even the most ingrained negative thinking habits. Provided that you have the right tools to do so.
In this diagram, cognitive therapy sits on one side and behavioural therapy on the other side. Your negative thoughts sit in the middle of where the two therapies overlap. Essentially, we’re working on the change from both sides.
Unlike some other therapy practices that can take a significant time to be effective, CBT strategies can bring on swift positive changes in your life. CBT is especially effective for anyone whose thoughts are stopping them from reaching their goals. In my experience, that’s everyone.
The cognitive side in cognitive behavioural therapy
Let’s take public speaking as an example. It’s well established that a significant number of people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. Millions of people carry an unnecessary burden of public speaking anxiety with them. Anxiety that then seeps into the rest of their lives.
Maybe you’re one of them?
Often, this phobia of public speaking stems from the negative thoughts we have about ourselves and what we think others might think of us. In almost every case, these thoughts are future based stories we’re creating.
CBT helps us eliminate these negative thoughts and allows us to unlock and remove our fear of public speaking.
The behavioural side in the cognitive behavioural therapy
Behavioural therapy is about practising the actual skill to reduce the negative thoughts associated with it. We improve our thought patterns and we layer the change by reinforcing it with habits designed to strengthen our capacity.
With public speaking, you work on your behavioural skills by improving your presence and speaking skills or learning your content so well that it’s near impossible to forget. The by-product of getting better at any skill is the reduced negative thoughts you may have about the skill.
How I use CBT in my practice
Imagine for a moment that while doing something fantastic, you accidentally break your leg. Maybe you need surgery. Most likely you need a cast. On top of that, you’re likely to be given medication to tackle the pain and a walking aid to take the weight off your leg. The doctor uses a layered approach to fixing your injury.
This layered approach is the same approach I use with my clients.
In our time together we’re going to focus on making changes and moving you forward. Like the surgery or cast, we reinforce your change with actions and tasking, which, when you’re working with me, are generally CBT focused and simple.
CBT focused tasks used consistently will enable you to build your muscles back stronger than ever. Like using a walking aid with a broken leg.
As a doctor would do with your leg, I will carefully design each piece of tasking to provide you with another layer of support and progress. Until you can confidently “run” again.
As a consistent physio exercise ignorer myself, I understand how easy it is to find an alternative way to spend your time. In saying that, I know from my clients that have come before, that doing the work gets you mentally and emotionally fitter and healthier.
And it can happen much faster than it takes to heal a broken leg.
Have a winning day!