Is cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) right for me?
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is quite different to traditional forms of psychological therapy offered in South Africa. CBT is a collaborative process where the therapist and patient work together to meet treatment goals. It is an evidenced based and empirically supported treatment for a number of psychological disorders, especially anxiety and depression. If you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, sleep difficulties, chronic stress, anxiety or depression then CBT is recommended.
Do I really need cognitive behaviour therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
It would be recommended to start CBT if you feel that you have too much distress, anxiety or are feeling low and depressed (for more than two weeks). Or it would be recommended to begin CBT if you feel that your anxiety, sleep difficulties or mood is having any impact on you social life, work, home, recreation or other important area functioning. A course of CBT can help you to master your difficulties. It is also aimed at relapse prevention, maintenance of health and empowerment to face future difficulties and challenges.
How can cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety disorders, stress management, body image problems, compulsive hair pulling (trichotillomania). Some of the benefits available from CBT include:
- Attaining a better understanding of your condition(s) and your goals
- Develop skills for managing stress and anxiety
- Reduce negative and biased thinking patterns
- Improve emotional wellbeing
- Feel more in control of your life and better handle life's stresses
- Build emotional resilience
- Prevent anxiety and depressive relapses
What is cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) like?
Every cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) session is unique and is structured according to each individual and their specific goals. In CBT it is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty to sixty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on specific difficulties or longer-term, addressing more complex difficulties. The typical CBT session consists firstly of a review of the week and any tasks set out in the previous session that the patient performed for the week. It then moves on to working on the specific therapeutic goals, leaving time for any concerns that may have arisen over the short-term. Often strategies, techniques or exercises are discussed and a plan is developed for the patient to try at home or outside of the therapy environment. For CBT to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking CBT are willing to take responsibility for their actions and work towards self-change. Here are some things you can expect out of CBT:
- Compassion, respect and understanding
- Knowledge of the problem and a clear perspective on its management
- Real strategies for enacting positive change
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
Is medication a substitute for cognitive behaviour therapy?
In some cases a combination of medication and CBT is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor or psychiatrist you can determine what's best for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication, especially in the case of anxiety disorders and depression. Instead of just treating the symptom, CBT addresses the cognitions (thoughts), emotions and behavior patterns that cause, maintain and exacerbate the difficulty/problem. An integrative approach to mental health is often the best approach.
To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.
However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.