What to expect from a course of CBT with me
How many sessions will I have?
A course of CBT varies but is typically around 8-20 sessions. These sessions are usually 50-60 minutes and weekly. Research has shown that regular sessions at this sort of frequency are the most beneficial in producing lasting change. Our sessions will be reviewed at the end of each meeting to check you are getting what you need from the therapy.
Around every 6 weeks we will review your general progress and your experience of the therapy. If you are willing, we can complete and analyse measures of your symptoms at these reviews. In my experience, after your first 3-4 CBT sessions you will be better able to understand your problem, have an increased awareness of thoughts and feelings and perhaps have started to practice new tools to manage these.
What are the aims?
The ultimate aim of a course of CBT is for you to become your ‘own therapist’. With this goal in mind, there will be an emphasis on work in-between the sessions so that you can start to put this into practice. Learning the new skills to manage difficult thoughts and uncomfortable feelings is a little like learning to play a new instrument - the more you practise, the easier it gets. I will encourage you and provide you with the tools that you will need to do this.
Is CBT suitable for me?
A course of therapy will usually start with a ‘suitability screening session’. During this we will look together from a CBT point of view at how your problem functions and impacts you on a day-to-day basis. This will help us to understand what maintains your problem and how it may be able to change. If at this first session we collaboratively decide that a course of CBT and/or ACT can help you, then we will usually plan a further assessment which will happen over the next 1-2 sessions.
Will we talk about my past?
Understanding the roots of your problem by exploring early experiences such as childhood, school and early relationships can sometimes help us to better understand unhelpful ways of thinking, which in turn can help you to respond to these thoughts more helpfully. We will spend time doing this but only if this feels meaningful to you and only with a view to understanding how the past affects the 'here and now'.
An important part of CBT is its focus on therapy goals. We will spend time exploring your personal values together so we have a shared understanding of what is important and meaningful to you. This will help us to set significant and relevant goals and can act as a powerful motivator.
The main focus of CBT treatment sessions is on the development of new tools and techniques to help you manage symptoms like difficult thoughts and uncomfortable feelings in order to decrease their impact and break any unhelpful patterns. Sometimes, sessions may be more focused on behavioural change. For example our sessions may include graded exposure, ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) and graded or increased activity. They may also include diary keeping, assertiveness or other skills training.
Each session you will choose how best to spend your time and I will provide you with CBT bridging sheets which will help you to summarise your week and set an agenda for each session.
Whenever you start to feel that you have gained enough from the sessions and/or have achieved your therapy goals, we will start work on a relapse prevention plan. These plans are a summary of your course of therapy with a focus on what has changed, how to take this forward and how to prevent or manage setbacks.
I will always invite you to book a review session 3 months after the end of your course of therapy to assess your relapse prevention. You will be welcome to book in for any CBT booster sessions that may be required.
How does video therapy work?
CBT video therapy is very similar to having it in-person. The main differences are the need to have a private space and a good internet connection. Interactions with your therapist are the same as if you were seeing them in-person. This a widely-recognised means of delivering CBT, with no differences in clinical outcome in comparison to in-person sessions.
What if I have to cancel a session?
As long as you give 24 hours notice there is no charge for cancelled sessions. Otherwise, missed sessions will incur full session fees.
I hope that this gives you an idea of what to expect from a course of CBT/ACT with me as your therapist. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.