As it is the start of a new year, many choose to start therapy to help them meet their goals for 2022. It is important, therefore, that therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be tailored to different individuals. So, how can we make CBT work for them, and what are the common worries getting started?
“CBT therapy doesn’t work for me”
I’ve assessed many people who will say to me ‘CBT doesn’t work for me’, and are then put off trying it again if they need further support. There is definitely a number of people who will have had true CBT and it wasn’t right for them. Perhaps they couldn’t engage with the techniques they were taught, or didn’t find the approach useful. But sometimes, there’s other things going on, that need to be considered before this type of therapy is truly written off.
What might really be going on
Firstly, perhaps it wasn’t CBT that didn’t work for you, but another factor in the therapy, that made CBT less effective. Perhaps your therapist didn’t explain the techniques in a way that you could understand and take next steps. Or perhaps you didn’t feel able to completely open up with them. You need to be able to gel with your therapist, which doesn’t always happen. We know from the research that the relationship you have with your therapist, has a huge impact on how well you do from the therapy.
Alternatively, perhaps you were accessing therapy at a time where you were too busy to commit to the weekly practices to take it forward? Perhaps you were juggling work and children and other things, making it hard to find time. Sometimes it’s not the therapy itself but the factors around it.
Identifying these factors absolutely does not mean blaming the therapist or yourself in any way. Instead, it can help us to recognise that maybe trying CBT again with someone else or whilst you are balancing less commitments might make the difference.
Are they qualified?
We’ve also noticed that some practitioners claim they are offering CBT therapy, but have only had a few days training in it. It’s also ways worth checking their credentials and training.
To put it into perspective, all of our accredited CBT therapists have first completed a three year undergraduate degree in psychology (or similar topic). We have then worked directly with people with mental health problems for 3-4 years in varying roles. Finally, we trained on a postgraduate course in CBT for one-two years. To become accredited with the governing body (BABCP), we then have to complete 200+ hours of CBT therapy whilst being heavily supervised by a more senior therapist. We also have to complete 200+ hours of studying. To stay accredited, we then do top up training each year too.
Unfortunately, ‘CBT therapist’ isn’t a protected title so anyone could be claiming to be one without the necessary training. And if they’re not properly trained, are they properly delivering CBT therapy?
Was it low or high intensity CBT?
Within the NHS, there are also different tiers of support you can receive. If you have mild-moderate depression or anxiety, you may be seeing a wellbeing practitioner. They are trained in ‘low intensity CBT’, which is a slightly briefer form of the therapy. It can be 30 minute sessions, every two weeks, for 6-8 sessions. This is compared to high intensity CBT which is usually 50-60 minute sessions, every week, for 10-20 sessions. The techniques have a similar ideology behind them, but low intensity is designed to be more light touch. At Brighter Life Therapy, we offer high intensity CBT.
Wellbeing practitioners are specifically trained to deliver briefer treatments to help more people access therapy. They do an amazing job, often helping many hundreds of people per year. For some people, 6 sessions is plenty to help them on their way and feel better again. But for others, they may need many more sessions, which the NHS can then offer as the next step. Whilst this model works brilliantly in ensuring better access to therapy, it does mean some people believe CBT to be something different. If low intensity hasn’t worked for someone, this might alter or ruin their view of what CBT is. This could then stop them accessing high intensity CBT in the future.
So what next?
So if you have had CBT before and haven’t felt it’s for you, take a moment to see if any of the above applies. If you decide to pursue this therapy, get in touch with us using the form below. We can talk through any concerns before getting you booked in.