People decide to seek therapy for all kinds of reasons. Some people have a specific problem like panic or depression they want to address while others may feel lost and unsure what is wrong. Like others you may have tried to solve the problem with only limited or partial success. It is not easy sometimes acknowledging that you can’t solve the problem yourself, but two minds are often better than one when it comes to overcoming problems.
What approaches do we use?
This depends on what your needs and preferences are, and the best ways of meeting them. Sometimes it makes sense to use one model of therapy to address problems while at other times to draw on several. We most frequently work with people using Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Cognitive-Analytic Therapy or Schema Therapy. At regular intervals during therapy we will ask for your feedback on how useful you are finding therapy, and we also use brief questionnaires to help us understand how well therapy is working for you. This allows us to make any changes we need while we work together to keep your therapy on track. To read more about CBT, CAT and Schema Therapy click here.
What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?
The end of a valued relationship can be disappointing and upsetting, but if you concluded that you were a failure and believed that you would not find another relationship then it might mean that natural sadness turns into depression and hopelessness. The idea behind Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is that your thinking influences the way you feel and act. We all have our own ways of understanding events around us, and the meaning we give to them can in some situations lead to problems such as anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.
CBT is collaborative and we would work together to understand the ways you think, identify unhelpful thinking styles that lead to mood problems, and promote more balanced ways of seeing things. CBT is a therapy that needs your active participation and it can give you the skills and strategies to overcome your problems and cope more effectively with any future problems that arise. An important part of CBT is working on tasks between sessions agreed between us.
CBT has been shown to be effective for a wide variety of problems. The length of therapy will depend on your circumstances but CBT usually lasts for between 8-16 sessions.
What is Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)?
Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) can be a really helpful way of understanding and overcoming patterns that seem to repeat in your life and that limit or harm you. If you ask yourself questions like “Why do I often feel misunderstood, put down, rejected or angry?” and cannot find answers, or find that you keep having the same problems in your relationships, or feel that you constantly struggle with issues of self-control around sex, food, or drugs then CAT may well be worth considering.
CAT can be an effective way of helping you understand and overcome the ways in which your patterns of thinking, acting and feeling may make things worse rather than better: as if you were setting yourself traps. You might find that in work, you fear failure such that you put things off until the last minute and then do them badly, or that in relationships, fearing rejection you become controlling and so end up pushing the other person away. Identifying how these patterns may now be holding you back enables you to discover the choices and ‘exits’ that are available to you to make your life better for yourself and those close to you. Read more about CAT here: What-is-CAT-brief-guide
What is Schema Therapy?
If you feel you’ve been struggling with the same problems for some time Schema Therapy may well be able to help. How we see the world often feels right to us and ‘schema’ refers to the lens through which we see the world at a particular time, colouring how we feel about our lives, ourselves and other people. Schema Therapy involves a deeper exploration than offered by CBT into why you feel the way you do, combined with a focussed approach to change. The therapist will initially work with you to understand how your current issues developed and what keeps them going now.
Schema Therapy is particularly effective when intellectually you feel you know what’s wrong, but you get stuck when you try and make lasting, meaningful change – as if another side of you gets in the way and you end up back in the same situation you started in. So for example, you might have underlying fear of being somehow defective or a failure (despite outwardly doing well) making it hard to let people get close to you. Or, you might have a part of you that feels you have to do everything to a very high standard, leaving you feeling under constant pressure to achieve beyond what is realistically possible. Having understood which schema are holding you back, the therapist gives you what you need to develop a ‘healthy side’ that is able to negotiate situations and feelings differently, so you can move forward in the direction you want to.
Schema therapy has good evidence for its effectiveness in problems relating to self- image, low mood / depression, eating problems, anxiety and relationships problems. It has also been shown to be effective with more severe problems such as BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and Narcissism. The length of therapy depends on your goals, and a provisional time frame can be agreed with your therapist at the end of the assessment (usually 2-4 sessions).