Tag Archives: cognitive behavioural therapy

Myths about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)



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Myths about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Myth:  CBT emphasizes the power of positive thinking

Fact: CBT emphasizes the importance of realistic thinking. It reduces anxiety by replacing unrealistic, exaggerated thinking with more accurate realistic evaluations.

Myth:  CBT is slow and can take many weeks before real benefits are seen.

Fact:  Many significant effects can be  seen in the first few sessions. You can expect to see improvements within the first 4-6 weeks.

Myth:  CBT is only ‘talk therapy’ in which people “talk themselves out of being anxious”.

Fact:  Behaviour change is a very important part of CBT. It is just as important that a person learns to change their behaviour and act differently in response to their anxiety. CBT looks at thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Myth: CBT is only effective for mild or moderate CBT.

Fact: CBT can help individuals with severe anxiety.

Myth: CBT ignores the influence of one’s past.

Fact: CBT does focus on the present, but past difficult experiences and childhood adversities may be considered when they have relevance on the individual’s present emotional functioning.

Myth: CBT is very superficial, dealing only with symptoms and not addressing the root cause of mental health issues.

Fact: CBT considers automatic thoughts and beliefs. It looks at childhood issues, where relevant and looks at rules for living and as such, it does look at root causes of issues.

CBT is a very useful therapy that can provide quick results. It differs from some forms of psychotherapy that can last for years. CBT can help you to function in the ‘here and now’ in the short term whilst helping you deal with more long lasting issues, in the long term.

Mandy X


The power of thought

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The power of thought

Photo by withbeautiful

Few people realise just how powerful their thinking is. The thoughts you choose to focus on and the beliefs you choose to hold on to as true for you, can create heaven or hell. The power of thought is closely looked at by cognitive behavioural therapists (CBT). It is widely accepted that thoughts lead to feelings and these feelings then influence our behaviour.

If we have negative automatic thoughts, they will lead to negative emotions and the ensuing behaviour will then be in line with those negative feelings.


THOUGHT: I am unattractive

FEELING: Sadness, anxiety

BEHAVIOUR: Avoidance of the opposite sex, avoid dating etc

If the thought was different but still valid, say for example: “I am not perfect but I have many qualities and characteristics”, the feelings would be more positive. This thought is more neutral and will lead to a happier feeling, say, a feeling of hope. The behaviour from this may be that the person ventures out to meet others.

Our thoughts are often habitual and we don’t even realise the repetitive negative dialogue that is occurring. We limit ourselves when we belittle ourselves and criticise ourselves. One of the cornerstones of CBT is to look at our thinking and get into the habit of questioning the validity of thoughts. Thoughts are nor facts – they are merely our perception of the world. They can be changed and they can be challenged.

CBT therapists challenge thinking by looking at the evidence for the thinking and then consider alternative ways of looking at a situation. Remove the negative automatic thoughts and aim for more neutral interpretations – that one simple trick can overhaul a life from misery to surviving and coping. It is a skill that can be learned. Being an effective ‘thought manager’ is one of the best skills you can ever learn if you care about your state of mind.

Be aware of your ‘mental diet’. What do you tell yourself about the world and about yourself?

Try completing these sentences, without thinking too much about it…

  1. I am…
  2. Others are…
  3. The world is…

The above exercise can sometimes help reveal your underlying thoughts about the world. If  you have answered negatively, you will probably find that you spend a lot of time feeling low. Negative thinking can be toxic – comparing ourselves to others, assuming what other’s might be thinking, over generalising, rigid thinking – all of these types of unhelpful  thinking (and others )are unhelpful and can lead to unnecessary anxiety and depression.

CBT is great because you can see results fairly quickly. The strategies and interventions need to be repeated for them to become part of your natural behaviour but it’s well worth it. Don’t just accept your thoughts without any challenge or evidence- they aren’t always accurate or necessarily based on what is really going on in reality.

Mandy X


Why life is full of surprises

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Why life is full of surprises

Photo by Tetsumo

Why is it that we fear uncertainty? Life is inherently uncertain yet we do our best to resist this fact on so many levels. We insure ourselves up to the hilt in order to stay safe. We risk assess and procrastinate, fearing we will make the wrong decision. Life seems to be a series of attempts to keep ourselves safe. We seem to forget that despite this, many of these attempts may only bring us psychological comfort. The reality is that life is full of surprises.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should dislike this. Uncertainty has value too. Being aware of every upcoming event would certainly bring its own challenges. Imagine knowing the day you will die or when someone you love will be injured and being unable to stop it from happening. No thanks. We fight uncertainty because we like to feel in control. When we learn to accept that we never fully have control and work with the flow of things, life becomes easier and less stressful. This may seem paradoxical but this is the exact intervention I use with my clients who come see me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

You can learn to tolerate uncertainty by introducing more of it into your life. Try a new restaurant, shop at a different supermarket or speak to strangers more often. Whenever we try something where the outcome is unknown, we are exercising our tolerance of uncertainty.

Perhaps life is full of surprises in order to teach us to live more in the moment. We often focus on what might happen and bombard ourselves with “what if..?” statements constantly. If we knew the date of an impending event, whether good or bad, we would find it even more difficult to stay focused in the present.

Accept uncertainty and embrace it as if you have chosen it. Only then will you feel free to live with the unfamiliar and the unknown.

Mandy X

10 Signs of good therapy


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10 Signs of good therapy

Good rapport

A good therapist will make you feel at ease. They will not judge you nor will they tell you what to do. When you feel safe and accepted and feel you could tell your therapist anything, you have found a good therapist.

Open minded

Another sign of good therapy is a therapist who is open minded. A good therapist will put aside their own personal values and work for the benefit of their client. They will withhold judgement in order to treat the client effectively.


A good therapist finds it easy to empathise with a client and see the world through their client’s eyes. This is a real skill and a talent. University qualifications can only teach a therapist certain skills..empathy is another area altogether. A good therapist will be good with people.

Ethical issues

Good therapy involves a skilled therapist who knows the issues of confidentiality and when confidentiality cannot be adhered to and will inform the client before therapy starts. Sensitivity to cultural, ethnicity and religious issues is also important.

Progress and goals for therapy

A skilled therapist will be person-centered in that they will ‘carve’ the therapy sessions into a formula that suits the client’s specific needs and issues. They will set up an initial structure that they can loosely follow with the client in order to achieve the client’s goals for therapy


This is goes without saying. Good therapy involves skill and academic qualifications.


A good therapist works with their client as a team member, not as a leader telling their client what to do. A therapist ideally, should teach their client to become their own therapist so that they may go back out into the world and be self reliant with their new ‘tools’ to deal with life.

Personal responsibility

Good therapy involves the client taking responsibility for their own emotional well being. A client that expects the therapist to do all the work will be disappointed and won’t get the most out of therapy.

Practice what they preach

Therapists are human beings and aren’t immune to the hardships of life. In fact, a therapist who has been through their own turmoil is often a far better therapist as they have personal experience and can relate more to a client’s woes in this way. I use CBT in my daily life and it helps me tremendously but there are times when life gets on top of me and no amount of positive self talk makes any difference. This is normal – we all have ups and downs.

Providing insight

Therapy is wonderful for providing insight. Clients understand themselves better and begin to deal with their problems in a much more effective manner. Their relationships are more rewarding and their levels of happiness increase. Clients also tend to be less stressed and worry less.

Therapy can be the best thing you ever do. Try a few therapists if need be, find one that you feel comfortable with and you will be amazed at the transformation!

Mandy X