Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Exeter

"Men are not disturbed by things which happen, but by their opinions about those things.”
Epictetus, Ancient Greek Stoic philosopher.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Is recommended by the NHS for many difficulties, notably depression and anxiety (including obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and phobias). CBT draws on a range of psychological principles and is often integrated with mindfulness.

The core CBT principle is that how we respond to a situation is more important than the situation itself. Let’s image that a colleague of yours announces that she’s just got a promotion. A co-worker frowns and shakes his head. “It’s not fair”, he thinks. “I am at least as well-qualified as she is!” He's feeling bitter and angry. Another colleague is smiling and giving them a ‘high-five’. “Well done you!” she says. She's feeling really happy for her friend. Note that the facts of this situation are much less important that how those facts are understood.

Psychology has found that we tend to perceive what we look for, so if you expect an experience to be bad, you’ll most likely be proved correct. But the same goes for expecting the best. Here’s another story to make my point. A dog walked through a curtain into a room and emerged a few moments later snarling and angry. Another dog walked into the same room shortly afterwards, and came out wagging his tail! What happened? The room was a hall of mirrors. The first dog went in feeling angry and found himself mirrored by lots of snarling dogs. The second dog went in curious and found lots of other dogs who were happy to meet him!

In some quite fundamental ways, our thoughts create our reality.

CBT reveals the connections between what we think (cognition), how we feel and how we behave. Take depression as an example. If I’m depressed, I may well believe that no-one likes me. That thought will, of course, make me sad and I'll be much less likely to go out or talk to anyone. If I don’t see or talk to anyone, I’m creating a situation that reinforces my belief that no-one likes me,

The Cycle of depression

This creates a negative cycle that can draw you deeper and deeper into depression. But if you catch your thoughts or behaviour you can break the cycle. Is it really true that no-one likes me? What if I go out to see my friend even though I don’t feel like it? You can do this on your own, but it’s much easier if you have a supportive therapist to help and this is where CBT comes in.

Is CBT for you?

  • CBT is more structured than most approaches and will gradually help you to become your own therapist.
  • CBT is about finding solutions, with therapist and client working together as a team.
  • CBT looks for practical ways to help you improve your state of mind on a daily basis. You’ll need to engage with the process to get the most from it, but I’ll be there to guide you on the journey to better mental health.

Sometimes a client will try CBT and decide it’s not right for them. That’s fine: If CBT doesn't work for you, we'll try something else. Although I have a Professional Certificate in CBT, I’m trained in a range of different approaches and we might use any or all of them depending on your needs.

If you think CBT might be helpful for you, we can arrange an initial session. Getting in touch is your next step towards feeling better.