So long Prozac. Goodbye couch.
16th November, 2009
Those seeking therapy today are likely to find a very different kind of treatment to the traditional therapists’ couch. CBT is short-term, goal-oriented and evidence-based - and you may be asked to sit up and pay attention.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is the fastest growing therapy in the UK; used in the treatment of everything from fear or spiders to Schizophrenia. For both financial and clinical reasons, it has become a favoured NHS treatment, alongside Counselling and more traditional forms of therapy.
NICE (the institute that recommends treatment to doctors), now advises CBT be used in most cases, before prescribing anti-depressants. Some private insurance companies only cover CBT therapy. Why has this new style of therapy become so popular?
Depression, anxiety and other mental health problems are not only the result of the past, but what we tell ourselves right now. CBT shows how beliefs and thoughts shape our emotions and behaviour. It helps you identify unhelpful thinking, and then change it.
CBT also focuses on an often ignored cause of depression - behaviour. Many clients respond as well to changes in their lifestyle. An unemployed man who exercises, eats a healthy diet and volunteers at his local Church is less likely to be depressed than an unemployed man who sleeps in until noon, watches TV and eats junk food. Giving the 2nd man therapy or drugs can prevent him from making necessary changes to bad habits.
There is also a growing backlash against anti-depressants. One British University found placebos were just as effective in the treatment of depression. Of those on anti-depressants 60% did not find adequate relief, and 70% of those who stopped relapsed. Side effects can be severe. CBT has been shown to be as effective as anti-depressants with lower relapse rates. Patients learn to heal themselves.
Have you ever become upset about a situation, only to find out later you had simply been mistaken. Anxiety and depression are often more the result of what we tell ourselves, than situations we find ourselves in. Many people are unaware of the power of their thoughts in shaping their moods.
Sarah, developed a phobia to needles in her third year of employment as a hospital nurse. What started as a slight aversion developed into full blown fear of needles, that forced her out of work and into long term depression.
Several attempts at therapy were unsuccessful, but a short course of CBT was able to help. She was encouraged to examine her phobia logically, and test her fear of needles against a scale of what was reasonable, rather than what ‘felt right’. After 3 months of CBT therapy she was able to identify and reject the destructive exaggerated-thoughts which had caused her so much anxiety, and replace them with more reasonable, helpful thoughts.
CBT teaches people to be their own therapist. They learn to solve their own problems, rather than rely on expert advice or drugs. These techniques are learned in therapy and then practiced in day to day life.
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