Friday, 23 April 2021

How Much Does Private Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Cost in the UK?

As the number of private CBT clinics and providers continues to increase in response to the demand for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, how can you ensure that you are getting good value for money?



Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) continues to set the gold standard in the treatment of anxiety conditions and mood disorders. CBT is highly effective in the treatment of short and long-term problems, providing good psychological insight into the causes of the problem and practical strategies for supporting sustainable change.

The research evidence demonstrates that CBT delivers good therapeutic outcomes in a relatively short period of time. It is therefore highly popular in both the NHS and private practice and is the NICE treatment of choice for a wide range of psychological problems.

Whilst CBT can be accessed free of charge via the NHS “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” (IAPT) services, waiting times can range from six to sixteen weeks, extending into several months for specialist CBT treatment or child and adolescent therapy.

Private CBT therefore provides a fast and flexible way of accessing good therapy with the added advantage of choosing the specific therapist that you want to work with.

The problem is that there are literally thousands of therapists offering CBT and wide variations in quality and price. So finding the right therapist and ensuring good value for money can feel complicated and confusing.

In this article, we offer some guidance on how to judge good value for money and some pointers to help select the right Cognitive Behavioural Therapist.

How Much Should You Expect to Pay for Private CBT?

The cost of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) typically depends on the qualifications, experience, success rates, commercial orientation, location and availability of the therapist. In our survey of 46 accredited CBT providers operating in the UK we found CBT costs ranging from £45 to £250 depending on the size, accreditation status, location  and commercial orientation of the private provider.

We also found that the CBT costs of services provided by the same therapists often varied significantly depending on the organisation or platform through which their services were offered.

It’s therefore difficult to establish a clear benchmark for good quality CBT, however we found that clients should generally expect to pay £70-£95 for one-to-one CBT appointments with a qualified and BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Where Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is provided by larger commercial organisations via subcontracting arrangements, the cost of CBT is inflated to cover organisational overheads and profit margins. We looked at fifteen popular / well-known private CBT providers in the UK and calculated a mean average of £117.60. The range was £75-£146 for a standard 50 minute daytime appointment. There were no discernible differences in the therapists or services offered within this price range; indeed many therapists worked across several private providers.

How Many CBT Sessions Will be Required?

To understand the costs of private CBT, clients also need to know how many sessions may be required. The  number of CBT sessions will vary depending on the presenting problem, the client’s therapy goals  and the level of complexity. Most anxiety and mood conditions can be treated within 6-16 sessions and the CBT process should always follow an agreed therapy plan. Our advice is to budget for a minimum of eight CBT sessions and agree the therapy plan following the initial appointment.

Value for Money

CBT is not a protected profession in the UK and the qualifications and credentials of therapists varies significantly from medically trained psychiatrists to untrained individuals offering CBT with superficial online training only. Whilst it’s reasonable to assume that individual’s with wider or more in-depth psychological training will charge more than unqualified therapists, this is not always a reliable gage for assessing good value for money. Higher charges are frequently driven by the therapist’s pricing policy rather than qualifications, credentials and experience.

Quality Assurance Standards

The recognised UK benchmark for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is set by the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP). Accreditation with the BABCP ensures that the individual has achieved a post-graduate specialist qualification in CBT, demonstrated competency in assessed clinical practice, committed to ongoing CBT supervision and undertakes regular and relevant professional development.

It’s therefore important to check the accreditation status of your Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy provider. Whilst there are non-accredited therapists with the relevant qualifications and clinical experience, attempting to objectively assess CBT qualifications and clinical experience can be a minefield. BABCP accreditation provides an established quality assurance standard that is universally recognised across the health, legal and insurance industries.

Whilst there are many examples of counselling businesses offering cheaper CBT, these services are often operating well below the recognised threshold set by the BABCP. We found that over 70% of “therapists” returning results for CBT during 20 randomised psychology and counselling directory searches had no formal CBT qualifications and were registered as counsellors or psychotherapists. It’s not unusual for therapists from other approaches to offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with limited CBT training.

There are also many private businesses and individuals advertising as CBT providers without recognised CBT credentials. There are training organisations offering CBT diplomas in as few as eight hours online training and a number of private businesses claiming recognition with spurious accreditation bodies registered via the complementary health industry.

In the UK, the only recognised professional body for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the BABCP. This is not to be confused with the BACP; a counselling body that does not accredit Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists.

You can check the CBT accreditation status of your therapist by visiting https://www.cbtregisteruk.com/ You can also use www.cbtpages.com to find independent Cognitive Behavioural Therapists and Practitioner Psychologists with CBT specialisms.

In the final analysis, the real question should be what constitutes good value for money. To help with this, we have offered the following points as a check-list for securing the right therapist at the right price.

1. Is the CBT psychotherapist qualified and accredited by the BABCP?

2.  Does the therapist have specific experience of working with the presenting problem?

3. Will the therapist follow the published evidence-base in determining the treatment approach?

4. Will there be agreed treatment timescales and a structured therapy plan?

5. Will therapy goals be used to set direction and monitor progress?

6. Is there a formal feedback process to refine the approach and address issues during the course of therapy?

7. Will there be a lapse or resilience plan at the end of therapy?

8. Can I establish a good interpersonal working relationship with this therapist?

About Think CBT

Think CBT is an independent network of BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists working across the UK. we operate on a commercially ethical basis. This means that we strike a fair balance between client charges and the market rate for good quality CBT. Our operating model is driven by our commitment to providing the highest standards of CBT at an affordable price. Our standard daytime charges are £75 and evenings and weekend appointments are £85. We charge less as we keep our overheads to an operational minimum without exploiting the commercial gap between the therapist and the client. Many of our associate team members choose to work with us because of our commercially ethical position and our commitment to working in the joint interests of the client and therapist.

You can find out more about our approach by visiting www.thinkcbt.com

The content of this article expresses the author’s opinion and does not represent the position of any other professional body.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

How the Cognitive Model is Used in CBT to Tackle Long-term Problems

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a highly structured, time-focused and goal oriented therapeutic approach underpinned by extensive empirical research which clearly demonstrates its efficacy and clinical effectiveness.


CBT brings together a wide range of proven cognitive approaches and behavioural strategies to alleviate suffering and improve psychological resilience. The purpose of CBT is to help change problematic patterns of thinking and behaviour and develop adaptive coping strategies for the problems that life presents. These strategies can be used to target problems relating to our current situation or environment or longer-term problems rooted in our earlier life experiences.

To find out more about CBT or to talk to an accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, visit www.thinkcbt.com 

Whilst behavioural strategies are a key part of the CBT approach, this article will focus on the cognitive aspect of CBT and specifically on how past experiences can influence how we think in the here and now.

The Importance of Cognition in CBT


A key premise in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is that it’s not the situation or event that maintains suffering, but the way we think about or respond to the situation. CBT therefore works by identifying, testing and altering the content and processes of thinking and by changing our relationship with unhelpful thoughts. 

This broadly involves two processes. Firstly, understanding and working on the current psychological maintenance factors that keep the problem going. Secondly, identifying historical factors that underpin the problem. In this article we will focus on how historical factors influence our beliefs and thinking processes.

Levels of Thinking – a Model of Human Cognition


Thoughts and thinking processes are largely the product of our earlier learning experiences. Where learning experiences are adaptive, we develop and cope more effectively. Where earlier life experiences are maladaptive or traumatic, our cognitions can be negatively influenced and time-frozen.

Aaron Beck (1967) drew on the original ideas of Piaget (1948), when he introduced the term cognitive schema to describe the content and structure of our negative core beliefs and thinking processes. Beck’s work on cognitive schema has been further developed into a model commonly used in modern Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

The onion diagram can be used to illustrate the different layers or architecture of the cognitive schema.

This shows how cognition can be presented on four levels including negative automatic thoughts, dysfunctional rules and assumptions and negative core beliefs. 




How Negative Schema Develop


The schema is like an internal filing cabinet of the mind. As children we start to understand and organise the world around us by opening and labelling files according to our early experiences. We subsequently spend our adult lives putting new material into these old files. Where our experiences were healthy and adaptive, we update the filing system to organise, classify and interpret new experiences in a helpful and adaptive manner. Where earlier life experiences were challenging or disruptive, we file and interpret our new experiences according to the old filing system. This can reinforce the problem and lead to negative or disorganised thinking.

The idea behind the filing cabinet metaphor is that our underlying beliefs and thinking processes are initially influenced by our early childhood experiences. This can include relationships with parents, the environment we grew up in, the demands or expectations that shaped our attitudes, our school years, social factors and significant early events involving loss or trauma. 

It’s important to emphasise that unhelpful thinking patterns in adulthood are often rooted in ordinary experiences perceived and interpreted through the eyes of a child. It’s not just what happened, it’s about how we interpreted what happened that often determines how we label our files. For example, if we interpreted the behaviour of an anxious parent as distant, insecure or unloving, then this could lead to a file labelled unwanted, unsafe or rejected. 

As a child we do not have the intellectual or emotional insight to objectively understand and interpret our early experiences. This can lead to filing errors and a disorganised filing system when it comes to understanding our future experiences. 

Whilst negative and traumatic life events can profoundly influence our early schema, unhelpful beliefs about ourselves or how other people view us, are often rooted in the misinterpretation of early challenging life experiences. The residue of old thinking patterns continues to affect how we see things in the present and profoundly influences our emotional responses and behavioural repertoire.

So why is this important? If we can understand how our early maladaptive schema were formed, we can find new ways of interpreting old experiences with the power of hindsight and a more objective adult perspective. This process is known as “Cognitive Restructuring” and is best undertaken with the support of a psychologically trained CBT expert. 

Cognitive restructuring of core beliefs, assumptions and rules involves testing, altering and updating these deeply rooted thinking patterns to find a more realistic, healthy and adaptive way of interpreting the schema. This can include structural change in which we challenge and change the content of our Schema, or defusion in which we find a helpful reframe which is consistent with reality.

Where early experiences include traumatic or abusive events, this can lead to deeply rooted and enduring psychological health problems. In these cases, the process of cognitive restructuring is highly specialised and should be supported by a trained Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist or Psychologist.

Contrary to the idea that CBT does not deal with historical or long-term problems, schema work or cognitive restructuring of core and intermediate beliefs involves an in-depth assessment of historical factors and the development of healthy and rational beliefs. This helps the individual to unfreeze and re-interpret old belief systems and develop healthy coping strategies.

This concept together with a wide range of CBT tools and strategies is presented in the new Think CBT Workbook and Skills Primer. You can download a free copy of the Think CBT Workbook by visiting our website www.thinkcbt.com and following the links to the workbook.


Thursday, 16 April 2020

CBT for Chronic Pain


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – CBT for Chronic Pain


Chronic pain affects approximately 45% of people living in the UK. This equates to over 28 million individuals suffering with pain symptoms lasting more than three months and causing significant impairment to daily life.

This article will explain how our scientific understanding of pain has developed, the difference between acute and chronic pain and the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches that have been developed to significantly improve the management of long-term pain conditions.

What is Pain?


Pain is a process for alerting the body to threat and injury and an essential component of the body’s ability to repair and heal. Pain perception, however, is highly subjective and based on a complex series of interactions between biological, psychological and social factors that influence the duration, intensity and frequency of pain itself.

For this purpose, it’s often helpful to distinguish between acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is the initial signal alerting the body to injury or physical harm. Acute pain is a protective mechanism that can persist whilst the healing process continues. By contrast, chronic pain is diagnosed following a minimum of three months and after the biological healing process has happened. Although pain is still experienced, this is no longer alerting the body to further injury or damage. Acute pain can therefore be viewed as a symptom and chronic pain as a condition.

Whilst it’s relatively straight forward to apply this definition to injuries such as broken bones, there is often an overlap between acute and chronic pain and a vicious cycle of suffering in deteriorative conditions or diseases. It’s therefore important to recognise and treat the acute and chronic pain symptoms in a multidisciplinary manner; using medical, psychological and lifestyle changes to address the different facets of the pain.

To understand how CBT has been developed to support a multidisciplinary approach to pain management, it’s helpful to explore how our scientific understanding of the interplay between biological and psychological factors has evolved over time.

The Evolution of the Pain Model


The science underpinning our current understanding of pain treatment can be traced as far back as Plato - 328-347 B.C. Philosophically, Plato recognised that pain was more than a simple physical reaction, involving a wider emotional experience that continued when the stimulus was lasting or intense. It wasn’t until the 17th century, however, that a medical conceptualisation of pain was first postulated by Renee Descartes.

Descartes developed the Cartesian Dualism theory of pain in 1644, proposing that the mind was incapable of influencing the body and that pain was a purely physical phenomenon. Whilst this biological approach contributed to the advancement of medical science, it also promoted a simplistic and reductionist view of pain that influenced medical theory until well into the 20th century.

Linked to the Cartesian model, the “Specificity” theory of pain was first articulated by Charles Bell in 1811 and developed by Von Frey in 1894.  This introduced the direct connection between pain sensors, specific pain pathways and different anatomical areas of the brain. Whilst Specificity theory made a significant contribution to medical science throughout the 19th century, it continued to promote a separation of the mind and body. Many clinicians still view pain in this binary manner, treating pain as a purely physical symptom and prescribing pain relief medication on a transactional basis.

In the 1940s, pioneering clinicians including Henry Beacher and John Joseph Bonica first documented the direct influence of psychological factors on the pain levels reported by soldiers and veterans returning from the Second World War. This demonstrated a link between biological, psychological and lifestyle factors in the experience and chronicity of pain.

It wasn’t until 1965 that Melzack and Wall provided a theoretical model to explain how this interaction between biological, cognitive and emotional factors worked to influence pain perception between the mind and body.

Melzack and Wall’s Gate Control theory explained the interactions between the pain sensors known as Nociceptors, the pain gateway situated in the spinal cord and the different areas of the brain anatomically associated with the interpretation of different pain experiences.
This fundamental breakthrough in pain theory, provided the basis for understanding the complex interaction between biological injury and the cognitive and emotional factors that influence the experience and maintenance of pain itself.

Gate Control theory still provides the model through which we understand the direct links between emotions such as depression or anxiety and the intensity of pain. As Melzack said, pain is experienced in the mind. In 1977 this mind body connection was further developed through the “Biopsychosocial” model of pain introduced by George Engle and developed by John D. Loeser.

The Biopsychosocial model identified four key factors that influence our modern understanding of the experience and maintenance of pain. These are:
  • Nociception: the signal that is sent from the peripheral nervous system to the brain to alert the body to potential harm or damage.
  • Pain: the subjective experience of the pain signal as processed by the brain.
  • Suffering; the emotional response to the nociceptive pain signal.
  • Pain Behaviours: the action that the individual takes in response to the experience of pain.
The Biopsychosocial model of pain is now widely used to understand the complex interaction between biological, psychological and social factors in the maintenance of chronic pain. Research shows that chronic pain can be significantly moderated through the individual’s cognitive appraisal, emotional reaction and behavioural learning.

In spite of this, many doctors still persist in treating pain as a purely medical problem. Over the last 60 years, this has contributed to an increase in reported chronic pain levels and a marked dependency on pain relief medications. Opioid addiction and chronic pain prevalence levels have increased in tandem and are well documented in the research literature.

Empirical research has demonstrated that psychological factors including operant and conditioned learning, expectancy, memory, cognitive patterns, belief structures and anxiety / mood disorders all play a significant part in the individual’s subjective experience of pain.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) treatment approaches have therefore been developed to target changes in the negative thinking patterns and behaviours that maintain and exacerbate chronic pain. These approaches have been found to be highly affective in increasing pain thresholds, alleviating suffering and improving quality of life standards.

The following section in this article briefly outlines how CBT is used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to effectively manage chronic pain conditions.

The CBT Treatment Process for Chronic Pain


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the recommended treatment of choice for chronic pain conditions. It’s the most researched form of psychotherapy for pain and the empirical data demonstrates that it is highly effective in managing chronic pain and improving quality of life.
CBT is a practical psychological approach that helps individuals identify and alter the thinking and behavioural patterns that maintain chronic pain. It focuses on the cognitive, behavioural and context factors that maintain and amplify chronic pain.

In addition to traditional CBT approaches, a new form of CBT known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been found to be highly efficacious in the treatment of pain. This works by teaching individuals to unhook from and lower resistance to negative pain appraisals and unhelpful avoidance behaviours.

Key approaches in the CBT treatment process include:

  • Identification of pain thresholds and activity baselines.
  • Psychoeducation on the maintenance factors for chronic pain and development of a chronic pain formulation.
  • Activity pacing and management of medication schedules.
  • Multimodal relaxation training.
  • Behavioural activation and behavioural bandwidth experiments.
  • Focus of attention training and mindfulness exercises.
  • Memory rescripting – particularly where trauma is implicated.
  • Cognitive change and defusion techniques.
  • Sleep strategies to cope with pain during sleep time.
  • Relapse and resilience planning.

The above techniques are highly structured and require the support of a professionally qualified and experienced CBT specialist. Whilst there are many individuals offering CBT, our advice is to always check the credentials of the therapist by visiting the UK CBT register.

Our CBT specialists are all post-graduate qualified, experienced and fully accredited by the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP). This means that you can be assured that you are working with a properly qualified and professionally recognised Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

You can find out more about how we deliver CBT for chronic pain conditions by visiting our page at – https://thinkcbt.com/cbt-for-chronic-pain

You can also find a range of CBT articles, reliable information and CBT resources by visiting our website at www.thinkcbt.com.

Disclaimer: the information in this article reflects the opinions of Think CBT and does not represent the position of any other professional / membership body.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Online CBT


Using Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – How to Ensure You Are Working With An Accredited CBT Expert



It’s always been important to check your therapist’s CBT credentials and clinical experience before starting Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The increase in online CBT following the Coronavirus outbreak now means that this is more important than ever.



Introduction

The title ‘Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist’ is not yet a protected professional term in the UK. This means that anybody can use the title without the recognised professional qualifications, training, experience or clinical supervision.

Whilst a number of well-known counselling and psychology directories offer therapist “verification”, the directory verification process can often be misleading, only applying to self-declarations and confirmation of therapist contact details.

Unfortunately, this means that there are many unqualified individuals offering CBT and counselling services without the recognised professional credentials or experience. We have seen examples of counsellors offering CBT with only a few weeks and in many cases, only a few hours of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy training.

As it’s likely that the Coronavirus isolation period will continue for many months before face-to-face therapy arrangements are back in place, this article explains how to ensure that you are working with a properly qualified UK CBT Psychotherapist. It also outlines the UK accreditation standards, so that you can properly assess the qualifications and expertise of your therapist before booking Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You can check our online CBT services by visiting https://thinkcbt.com/online-cbt

The UK CBT Accreditation Register

The fastest and most reliable way to check that you are working with a professionally accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, is to check CBT credentials by visiting the UK CBT register at www.cbtregisteruk.com

This register is the only recognised quality assurance check to confirm that your Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist is professionally accredited by the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP).

The BABCP is the only recognised UK professional body for the maintenance of clinical practice and training standards in CBT. The BABCP exists to protect the public and promote professional standards in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

The UK CBT register is used by all of the major insurance providers, the legal profession and many other professional bodies to check the accreditation status of CBT Psychotherapists before permitting panel registration. You can also visit  https://cbtpages.com/


You can use the simple surname check to find out if your UK CBT provider is listed on the accreditation register. If your therapist is listed, you know that they have achieved the rigorous training and clinical practice standards outlined later in this article.

If your therapist is not listed on the UK CBT register, this means that they have not been professionally verified by the BABCP.

The register also offers a postcode search; however this only identifies those accredited BABCP members who have chosen to advertise their services via the BABCP’s own directory. Our advice is to find your chosen therapist and check the accreditation status using the simple surname check.

NOTE: The BABCP is often confused with the similarly sounding BACP.

The BACP is a professional body for Counselling and Psychotherapy and does not cover Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This unfortunate similarity in names, often creates confusion for members of the public. If in doubt, always remember to check for the “double B” in BABCP.

At Think CBT, we are fully qualified and BABCP accredited.  We are also approved Cognitive Behavioural Therapy experts for all of the major insurance providers and UK panel registrants for the medico-legal and court system. You can visit our website to find a therapist at https://thinkcbt.com/cbt-therapy-appointments

Minimum Training Requirements and Clinical Practice Standards for BABCP Accreditation

To apply for provisional accreditation with the BABCP, the clinician must be able to demonstrate the following criteria:

·         A minimum of 12 months in a psychological core profession including HCPC registered clinical psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. There is an extensive and in-depth clinical portfolio exercise known as the KSA assessment for applicants without a core psychological profession to demonstrate the equivalent clinical experience.
·         Completion of a BABCP approved level 2 post-graduate training programme at Master’s Degree level. Not all master’s level CBT training programmes in the UK fully meet the rigorous standards applied by the BABCP. 
·         A minimum of 450 hours specialist Master’s level CBT training. This involves written assignments, logs, case studies and research assignments amounting to approximately 25,000 words.
·         A minimum of 40 hours professional CBT supervision delivered by a recognised CBT supervisor with BABCP accreditation.
·         Presentation of eight detailed clinical cases for full clinical supervision.
·         Three written clinical case studies of 4,000 words per case study to demonstrate competency in clinical practice.
·         A minimum of 200 hours of supervised clinical work as a trainee CBT practitioner.
·         Two written references covering clinical supervision and wider professional practice.

Once these criteria have been met, the therapist may apply for provisional accreditation by the BABCP. Provisional accreditation lasts for 12-18 months, during which time the provisionally accredited CBT Psychotherapist must demonstrate adherence to the BABCP codes of practice and professional standards. This includes a minimum of 90 minutes clinical supervision each month by a recognised CBT supervisor and engagement in a further five CBT training / learning activities.

Only at the end of this period is the Psychotherapist permitted to apply for full accreditation as a CBT Psychotherapist.

What if my therapist isn’t on the UK CBT register?

Whilst there are some Psychotherapists who are able to meet the minimum training and practice standards without joining the BABCP, it’s still important to personally check your therapist’s credentials if they are not on the UK CBT register. 

If your counsellor or therapist is offering CBT services and is not professionally accredited by the BABCP, our advice is to use the following simple questions and checklist to determine whether you are working with someone with equivalent qualifications and experience:

·         How many hours of Post-graduate CBT training has the Psychotherapist completed?
(The BABCP standard is a minimum of 450 hours specialist post-graduate level training in CBT)

·         How many hours of specialist CBT supervision has the Psychotherapist completed?
(The BABCP standard is a minimum of 40 hours of CBT specific clinical supervision).

·         How many hours of supervised specialist practice has the Psychotherapist completed?

(The BABCP minimum standard is 200 hours of supervised practice as a CBT Practitioner)

·         What approved post-graduate CBT specific qualifications does the Psychotherapist have?

(The BABCP standard is completion of a level 2 accredited post-graduate training programme at Master’s level).

Some therapists have professional credentials that provide an equivalent to the above criteria without being on the UK CBT accreditation register, however it’s often difficult to compare and quality assure without independent professional advice. If in doubt, consult the UK CBT register or use the above checklist.

This is what we offer at Think CBT

If you work with a Think CBT Psychotherapist, you can be assured that you are working with BABCP accredited CBT experts and HCPC registered psychologists. We only offer services that we are professionally qualified and accredited to deliver and we only work with clients when we are confident that we can help. We quality assure our team members so that our clients don’t have to worry. You can find out how we ensure the highest standards of online CBT by visiting https://www.thinkcbt.com/online-cbt

As part of our recruitment process we check professional credentials, experience, qualifications, DBS clearance and professional indemnity.  All of our CBT Psychotherapists are interviewed, and we only accept CBT experts with a proven track record.

If you want advice or guidance on any of the above points, contact Think CBT via info@thinkcbt.com or by visiting our website at www.thinkcbt.com

Disclaimer: the information in this article reflects the opinions of Think CBT and does not represent the position of any other professional / membership body.

Friday, 20 March 2020

CBT During Covid


Coping With Isolation

Over the coming weeks and months, many of us will be asked to self-isolate or be instructed to stay at home if we have been infected by the Coronavirus. This will place us under significant pressure and change many of our normal coping mechanisms. So for example, if we are used to engaging in social activities such as  sports, events, bars, shopping, contact with close friends and family, we will need to develop a new approach to maintaining good psychological health to get through the isolation period.

At Think CBT we have developed a simple framework to help people plan, structure their time and act in a way that makes the period of isolation more bearable. 

This approach is called the “PACE” framework. The PACE framework draws on tried and tested CBT methods to help maintain good emotional and psychological health. You can download a free copy of the PACE Framework at PACE or by visiting our Resources page at www.thinkcbt.com

PACE is a simple acronym that stands for Physical, Achievement, Connection and Enjoyment.

Each of these areas are directly linked to the upkeep of different biological and emotional processes in the human body and nervous system.

Physical – This involves diet, exercise and sleep patterns.

Achievement – This is what we do to get a sense of purpose, completion or  satisfaction.

Connection – This involves our key relationships, feelings of closeness, community or  bonding.

Enjoyment -This includes the things we do for fun, for interest or pleasure.

During the period of isolation, it is important that we plan and structure our time to address each of these areas. We  should be aware of the risks of falling into patterns of unstructured and passive behaviour. Taking an unplanned or reactive approach during long periods of isolation can lead to problems with anxiety and depressed mood, which in turn can have a significant impact on our physical health. 

In-depth studies into the affects of isolation in prison or detainment populations have shown the profound affect that a loss of structure, engagement and purpose can have on psychological health and well-being.

So how do we apply the PACE framework?

Let’s take each of the four areas in turn and outline what this involves:

Physical Time – It’s important that we maintain good diet, sleep and exercise patterns.

Diet: Diet means planning and sticking to a well-balanced, varied and nutritious diet during the period of isolation. So without stock-piling, we can buy or have fresh food delivered. We can plan a weekly menu and really stretch our imaginations to try recipes that we don’t normally have the time to prepare through work or other commitments. The key to this is planning and sticking with the weekly menu. 

If you are living alone, this can involve contacting friends or checking out recipes online or on channels such as YouTube.

If you are isolated with other family members, this can be planning and preparing food together.

The important thing is to have a plan and stick with it.

Exercise: Exercise is crucially important. Mr Motivator said on the radio just this week that your home is your gym. You should make the time and space to undertake regular exercise or gentle stretching movements to physically activate the body. You can find countless online home based exercise plans by simply entering exercise at home into your search engine. 

It’s also important to remember that isolation does not mean staying at home. You should try to walk, run or take exercise outside in daylight, always taking care to maintain physical distance from other people to avoid the risk of infection.

Sleep: A healthy sleep pattern is key to good emotional balance and we know that sleep is often the first thing to suffer when we experience periods of stress. There are some strict rules about practising good sleep hygiene and bedtime rules to improve the chances of a good night’s sleep. Some key points are stick to a regular wakeful and sleep timetable, keep the bedroom clear of screens and other distractions and only go to bed when you are tired. There is a special type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia called CBT-I and you can learn more about this by visiting www.thinkcbt.com

Achievement Time – This involves planning and  allocating time to undertake activities that give you a sense of completion or satisfaction. This can range from work-related tasks for those people working from home or school, but it can also involve domestic tasks such as tidying, cleaning, gardening, home improvements or odd jobs around the house. Make a list of those jobs that you never seem to have time to complete and use the PACE exercise which you can download from www.thinkcbt.com to schedule these activities.

For those of us looking after younger children, this may also involve some support for home schooling. Again, having a structured plan for schoolwork time is crucially important.

Connection Time – This is an important human need to engage and connect with other people. If you are living alone, you should reach out to friends or acquaintances, join online groups or make contact with some of the social organisations that work to eliminate loneliness. Some of the organisations that can help include:

UK Youth, The Silver Line, The Way Foundation, The British Red Cross, Age UK.

If you are isolated with other family members, you can schedule time to sit together, play games, eat together, talk through your feelings, concerns and offer support. 

Physical human contact is a highly important aspect of this, so take the time to cuddle up and exchange hugs on a regular basis. The Danish have a specific phrase called “Hygge” (pronounced hooga) where they take the time to connect, particularly when the weather is cold and inhospitable. Again the key to this is planning and scheduling daily “hooga” time, so that you spend quality time with your partner or family members without other distractions.

Enjoyment Time – This involves just doing things that are fun, interesting, fulfilling or exciting. For many people this period of isolation could be an opportunity to learn a new skill, take up a hobby, learn some key phrases in a different language, to read books that you don’t normally have the time to engage in, to watch that box-set with a good bar of chocolate or to relax in a hot bath. Make a list of the things that you really enjoy doing and schedule something enjoyable each day. This doesn’t have to be a momentous thing and could just involve a brief moment of relaxation. 

Enjoyment always has more impact when it is linked to a sense of reward for having the personal discipline to stick to your weekly plan for Physical Time, Achievement Time and Connection Time. 

You may find that some activities cross the boundaries between Physical Time, Achievement Time, Connection Time and Enjoyment Time. This doesn’t really matter provided the activities are planned in advance and applied with good self-discipline.

To find out more about the PACE approach, you can visit the Think CBT website at www.thinkcbt.com 

Finally, if you need specific support and feel that you might benefit from working with a professionally accredited CBT expert, you can organise online video or telephone CBT on 01732 808626 or via info@thinkcbt.com

Our CBT experts can provide professional guidance and support for the full range of anxiety conditions and depressive disorders. We know that the Coronovirus will be particularly challenging for people with a pre-existing anxiety condition or problem with depressed mood. Don’t suffer in silence.

We have made special provision for online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the research evidence shows that it can be as effective as face-to-face work. We don’t just use messenging or email contact like some other online services. Our online sessions are conducted via a video connection where the CBT materials and exercises are shared on-screen as we work with our clients. This is a fully interactive experience and we use exactly the same approaches that we use with our clients when working together in the same room.

Our online CBT page explains how the online CBT process works and provides access to free online psychological assessments. If you want to find out more about online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, visit https://www.thinkcbt.com/online-cbt

Disclaimer: the information in this article reflects the opinions of Think CBT and does not represent the position of any other professional / membership body.