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Tangible results

After working for several years within the institutional setting of Child Protection Services, moving into private practice immediately opened my eyes to a radically different kind of work that called for new and specific tools. Private work involves diving deep into the psyche of a unique individual - and it can only happen within the framework of a strong partnership. It is a singular, intimate collaboration.

While traditional psychotherapy is a powerful method in itself, I found myself looking to develop additional skills. Given the financial and other pressures that many clients were facing, longer-term therapy was not a realistic option for them. I was therefore particularly attracted to tools that would help bring about measurable, real-life changes for them, typically within months rather than years.

My ensuing research on the effectiveness of various therapeutic methods led me to an anglo-saxon approach - cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT. Highly respected within the medical and scientific communities for its measurable results, CBT is based on the relationship between ideas, emotions and behaviours. It teaches us to challenge false beliefs, to manage our emotions and develop more adaptive behaviours.

With some years of training and several years of practice under my belt, CBT still convinces me of its effectiveness.

  • A key aspect of CBT is its pragmatism. Experiments are undertaken in real-life situations. Skills are learned. Measurements are made. Progress is evaluated and strategies are refined. The work outside the therapeutic setting is as important as that within - after all, the final objective is a happier, more productive daily life.

  • As mentioned earlier, the therapeutic relationship is a corner-stone. The client is sole expert on their subjective experience. The therapist possesses the tools and experience to encourage the client to readjust their position and experiment with different ways of thinking, responding emotionally and reacting. This is only possible within a context of mutual trust and respect.

  • Depending on the kind of issues that are being dealt with, CBT can offer rapid results. Progress is reinforced by the strength of the client’s engagement. A willingness to question long-held beliefs or put aside ingrained habits and test new behaviours is key to success. It is the therapist’s responsibility to find a balance between the client’s motivations, needs and strengths, offering the tools and support which allow them to make change happen.

Tangible results

After working for several years within the institutional setting of Child Protection Services, moving into private practice immediately opened my eyes to a radically different kind of work that called for new and specific tools. Private work involves diving deep into the psyche of a unique individual - and it can only happen within the framework of a strong partnership. It is a singular, intimate collaboration.

While traditional psychotherapy is a powerful method in itself, I found myself looking to develop additional skills. Given the financial and other pressures that many clients were facing, longer-term therapy was not a realistic option for them. I was therefore particularly attracted to tools that would help bring about measurable, real-life changes for them, typically within months rather than years.

My ensuing research on the effectiveness of various therapeutic methods led me to an anglo-saxon approach - cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT. Highly respected within the medical and scientific communities for its measurable results, CBT is based on the relationship between ideas, emotions and behaviours. It teaches us to challenge false beliefs, to manage our emotions and develop more adaptive behaviours.

With some years of training and several years of practice under my belt, CBT still convinces me of its effectiveness.

  • A key aspect of CBT is its pragmatism. Experiments are undertaken in real-life situations. Skills are learned. Measurements are made. Progress is evaluated and strategies are refined. The work outside the therapeutic setting is as important as that within - after all, the final objective is a happier, more productive daily life.

  • As mentioned earlier, the therapeutic relationship is a corner-stone. The client is sole expert on their subjective experience. The therapist possesses the tools and experience to encourage the client to readjust their position and experiment with different ways of thinking, responding emotionally and reacting. This is only possible within a context of mutual trust and respect.

  • Depending on the kind of issues that are being dealt with, CBT can offer rapid results. Progress is reinforced by the strength of the client’s engagement. A willingness to question long-held beliefs or put aside ingrained habits and test new behaviours is key to success. It is the therapist’s responsibility to find a balance between the client’s motivations, needs and strengths, offering the tools and support which allow them to make change happen.

At the heart of CBT

The idea-emotion-behaviour triangle. Each angle relates to the two others with a perfect internal logic. Unfortunately, this “logic” is sometimes based on false beliefs rather than objective reality, and the triangle becomes unhealthy, unbalanced.

If I believe something -
that there’s no way to succeed, that I can never win - this idea will affect my emotions - I’ll feel defeated, resigned, sad - and I will act in consequence - give up, close in on myself…

Decades of research have shown that working to correct one of the angles will influence the other two and enable us to re-balance the triangle.

  • NB : in CBT, the word “idea” refers to our intrant dialogue, our spontaneous thoughts, rather than those that we construct consciously and rationally.

An example of an idea- emotion - behaviour triangle related to social anxiety is illustrated at the bottom of this page .

Some examples of the tools used in CBT:

Depending on the strategy chosen and the progression of the therapy, the tools used will target one of the three angles more specifically.

  • Ideas : one of the most frequently used tools is a Journal of ideas, a method for identifying and correcting our internal dialogue when it becomes unhelpful or irrational as the contents of these thoughts affect our perception whether it be of a situation or of ourselves. Finding thoughts that are more objective opens mental doors, generates more balanced emotions and allows us to come up with more productive behaviours.

  • Emotions : techniques involving Relaxation and Mindfulness help us to manage our emotions better and to be more serene in painful or disturbing situations.

  • Behaviours : the behaviours that handicap us today, were perhaps yesterday the best or only solution we could imagine in the face of difficult situations or emotions. In the case of depression, an exercise based on everyday activity levels helps us realise that there are feasible alternatives to cutting ourselves off from the world, despite low energy levels. Another powerful behavioural technique is exposure therapy which helps us, gradually and safely, to learn how to deal with the situations that we fear.

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