SENSE I CONNECT I CREATE I GROW
“For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”
– William Shakespeare
At Imagine we specialise in providing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for mental health problems. CBT is a structured therapy that explores cycles of thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and how these cycles might be affecting our lives. Through changing thinking patterns or behaviours we can break cycles that might be keeping us stuck.
Despite its scientific approach, CBT is not cold and clinical. You will have the time and space to tell your story and to talk through your week. You can bring any issues you are having and we can work on these together, as part of the therapy. We also won’t be sitting still all the time. CBT is a proactive therapy and we may well get out of the therapy room to try new behaviours or practice strategies in different places. We explore and experiment together. Always at your pace, though. One step at a time. Sessions can be adapted and individualised to suit your age, abilities and preferences.
CBT is a scientific therapy. Together, we take a curious look at thoughts and behaviours, collect data and experiment with changes.
As well as following a session-by-session plan, in CBT we will typically create an agenda together at the start of each session. We will also measure progress regularly, often week-to-week to ensure the therapy plan is right for you.
At the start of therapy we will talk about where you want to get to and together will come up with some therapy goals. These help us to keep on track and to ensure that we are working on what you want to work on.
CBT is about making changes in your daily life around thoughts and behaviours, to improve mental health. Any new skill needs practice and new ways of thinking or behaving are no exception. Homework is an important part of therapy. We’ll learn skills and strategies in therapy and you can then take these home to practice. We then talk about how it went and adapt things as we need to.
Cognitive work is all about how we think. It might involve collecting information on thoughts by using diaries. We might learn about different kinds of thoughts and strategies around how to challenge thoughts.
Working on behaviours may also involve collecting information, often through diaries. Information might also be collected about the effect of behaviours on mood and thinking. We may consider the effects of different behaviours on mood and use this information to improve your mood. Challenging behaviours may be completed through doing experiments, trying out different ways of doing things.
At Imagine we have specialist training in CBT for children and adolescents. CBT can be suitable for children who are mature enough to work in this way. Typically, this can be from age 7 but really depends on the child. For children, more involvement in CBT from parents can be supportive.
There are a number of different ways mental health therapists work using CBT:
CBT-informed work is when the therapist uses the theory, tools and strategies from formal CBT but will not follow the whole protocol. A therapist doing CBT-informed work does not need to have completed specialist training. CBT-informed work is good for clients that do not have a diagnosed mental health problem but do find themselves struggling with certain cycles of thoughts/behaviours. It can also work well for clients that have milder mental health problems. Some therapists will combine CBT theory and strategies with other therapies that they offer. Its a good choice for you if you cannot commit to the time involved for formal CBT. CBT-informed work will be shorter, to be determined between us. The evidence for CBT is largely based on formal CBT. However, many people find CBT-informed work helpful and effective.
Formal CBT is a structured treatment offered for different mental health diagnoses. Therapists offering formal CBT should have specialist post-graduate training. CBT offered in this way is supported by evidence and has shown to be effective for treating a wide range of mental health issues. Formal CBT involves a longer time period, usually 12-20 sessions. Within this time we work together using both a protocol and a formulation. The protocol is a detailed session by session plan that has been developed by researchers for treating different diagnoses. The therapist uses this as a guide to plan sessions. The formulation is something that we create together, which maps out the cycles of thoughts/feelings/behaviours that you are experiencing. This is different for each individual and also informs exactly what we work on in therapy. Using both the protocol and formulation, your CBT treatment is structured and individualised. As we work, we refer back to the formulation, aiming to loosen and break the cycles that are keeping your mental health problems going. Towards the end of therapy we work on keeping recovery going longer-term and preventing problems getting worse again. Sessions are usually weekly, but can be spread out towards the end of therapy. Typically formal CBT lasts around six months.
At Imagine we can offer both formal CBT and CBT informed work.
CBT is an evidence-based approach that might be helpful to you. You might be a child or teen, you might be an adult, you might have Autism as well as a mental health problem such as anxiety. CBT can be life-changing for some, but won’t be the right therapy for everyone. If you would like to explore if its the right fit for you, please arrange your free thirty minute consultation through our secure online booking system.