Lots of people have heard of therapy, but what are the different types?
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of therapy that looks at our thoughts, our emotions, our behaviour and our bodies physical responses. It looks at the way these four areas interact and how this can and does impact on the way we experience things. These interactions can create a vicious cycle that maintains our negative thoughts feelings or behaviour.
EXAMPLE – A young man decides he is going to ask the girl he likes at work out for a coffee. When he gets to work she uncharacteristically ignores him and is very withdrawn. He thinks she must have anticipated I was going to ask her out, she is embarrassed, doesn’t want to go out with me, she’s never really liked me, how could I have got it so wrong, I bet everyone in the office knows, she’s probably told everyone and now they all think I’m an idiot. He feels worried, anxious and low in mood. He changes his usual behaviour at work, he doesn’t mix with others at lunch time for fear of what they think of him, he doesn’t visit his friend on the way home because he feels so awful. He physically feels his body is heavy and tired, his concentration is poor which makes him think how awful he has done at work today and how this will confirm to people he is stupid and can’t do his job, let alone ask a girl out. He feels more and more low and worried, he feels Physically sick and shaky.
The following day the girl greets him with a smile and says ‘sorry I was off yesterday I had a terrible tooth ache and had to go home. I asked the guys to tell you at lunchtime when you went to the canteen’.
Cognitive behavioural therapy seeks to help you to identify what the difficult cycles might be for you. Helps you to understand this process better and then to adapt and create new more positive and productive ways of coping with these challenges using skills and techniques taught throughout the therapy sessions.
Cognitive Behavioural therapy is usually time limited and focuses on particular goals set by you at the beginning of the sessions.
What is Counselling?
Counselling is a type of therapy that enables people to explore aspects of their life and feelings by talking openly and freely in a way that is often not possible with family and friends. Family and friends can frequently be emotionally invested in your life and therefore have their own opinions and biases which can affect the way they respond to you and your situation. Counselling neither judges, nor offers advice. Counselling gives you an opportunity to express difficult feelings such as anger, resentment, guilt and fear in a confidential environment. This can include examining parts of your life that you may have found difficult or impossible before. There may be some exploration of early childhood experiences in order to illuminate why you might react or respond in certain ways in given situations. This is often followed by considering ways in which you may make changes.
EXAMPLE - A young woman starts a new job. She has great previous experience, wonderful qualifications and settles quickly and confidently into her new role. However a work colleague is frequently critical of her work and undermines her efforts at every turn. This has caused the young woman to become withdrawn at work, depressed and anxious about her abilities. In turn her friends begin to get frustrated by her constant complaints. They can’t understand why their normally confident friend doesn’t stand up for herself and why she is so affected by this woman.
Exploring this situation in counselling the young woman talked of how her parents were quite critical of her with high expectations. She always worked hard to please them and feared their look of disappointment and critical comments. She never challenged their critical comments, she was a child and they knew best.
This young woman began to understand how she might be responding to her a colleague in a similar way. This enabled her to reflect on this and approach the situation at work with greater adult confidence and to be more assertive. She was also able to reflect that often these comments by her colleague were of a helpful and professional nature and not always as personally critical as she had previously experienced them.
Effective counselling reduces confusion, allowing you to make effective decisions leading to positive changes in attitude and/or behaviour. It is not advice-giving and it is not acting on someone else's behalf. The ultimate aim of counselling is to enable you to make choices, reach decisions and to act upon them accordingly.
Counselling or Cognitive Behavioural therapy?
As you can see from the examples above both approaches can have great merit in helping you to achieve understanding and change. Which approach might be best for you? You may already have a clear idea and that is great, but you might feel that both have some merit for you in your situation? In the first session we will discuss this in greater detail and together come to a decision about what approach or combination of approaches might best meet your needs.