Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) while being one of the more familiar and well known therapies often gets a bad name as it can be seen to be a ‘quick fix’ to therapy. This is likely to be due to its links within the NHS and services that offer time-limited therapy. While 6-8 sessions of therapy can be enough for some clients and their presenting problem, this will not be the case for everyone, and actually most CBT practitioners would be looking to provide their clients with closer to 16 sessions.
CBT has today been in the news as a recent study carried out at Kings College London has proven that it can rewire the brain and strengthen healthy brain connections in patients with psychosis. It is worth noting that this was with clients who had over six months of therapy, so again highlighting that CBT is not a brief therapy.
I use CBT within my practice as it has been proven to be effective to those with anxiety, depression and psychosis. Ultimately I am an Integrative Counsellor as I see the benefit and usefulness in a number of different approaches. What approach I use will be dependent on the client and the issues they bring to therapy, there are definitely clients I see that CBT would not be useful for. However for some, especially where they are looking for ways in which they can ‘do something’ and help themselves CBT offers that opportunity.
Quite simply the therapy helps clients to identify unhelpful or negative thought patterns and beliefs, The aim is to then challenge the validity of these and replace these with alternative, more helpful, balanced perspectives. The foundation to CBT is the relationship between our thoughts, feelings associated with the thought, and how that influences a response or behaviour.
Again, why CBT can have bad press is because it is directed initially by the therapist and is more goal or agenda driven, which can lead critiques to believe the clients voice is not heard or even ignored. Working integratively this is definitely not the case and a person-centered, client-focused approach is essential to my work. Ultimately I believe in listening to the needs of the client, working with the person in front of me to understand their difficulties and why this may be a problem for them at this time. If a CBT approach is in the interest of my client and they are comfortable working in this way I would certainly encourage this therapy.
As the news has highlighted today CBT can really help people to learn new ways of thinking about and responding to their difficulties, but as a counsellor, what I enjoy most about working with CBT is empowering the client to be able to use the tools and techniques outside of the therapy room. By practicing the skills learnt the client can literally become their own therapist, which means they have the knowledge and expertise to help themselves long after therapy has ended and are less likely to return to the counseling room.
For further reading please see Kings College London News posted 17th January 2017 http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/news/records/2017/January/Study-reveals-for-first-time-that-talking-therapy-changes-the-brain's-wiring.aspx