Most of us go through episodes of difficulty during our lives, but usually we ‘bounce back’ after time and can learn important lessons from what seemed like a dark time; this is all part of being human.
But what do we do when we get ‘stuck’ in a place of difficulty and find it hard to maintain an acceptable level wellness?
I completed a post graduate certificated course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) at Exeter University in 2011. This equipped me with the skills to treat depression and a range of anxiety disorders, including Generalised Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety and Obsessional Compulsive disorder (OCD).
How Does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Work?
CBT cannot remove your problems, but it can help you deal with them in a more positive way. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.
CBT aims to help you crack this cycle by breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and showing you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.
Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis.
See the website: Get Self Help – CBT
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
In 2013 I was trained by Michael Paterson OBE, an expert in the field of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who specialises in delivering Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). This non invasive therapy works directly on the central nervous system to reprocess the memory, thus eradicating the traumatic association with the event.
What is PTSD? Most of us can remember very few of our day to day experiences; while we may recall what we ate for lunch yesterday, or even one day last week, we will not be able to relive that experience in detail. This is because our brain could not possibly retain all the information about everything we experience. So, while we sleep, not only does our body rest, but our brain sorts our day’s experiences into those things we need to hang on to and those that we can let go of. This happens during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) part of sleep.
When we experience trauma, it is not in our interest to completely let go of the experience as the nervous system wants to make sure we never have that experience again; so these memories are stored in minute detail in the part of the brain (the amygdala) that is not able to reprocess during REM sleep.
During EMDR sessions, it is the therapist’s job to elicit the underlying negative thought relating to the traumatic experience and help draw that out of the amygdala and encourage REM – all while the client is wide awake!
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
My ongoing interest in Yoga and meditation meant that I was chosen to complete a series of residential and university based training courses, run by Jon Kabat- Zinn, Exeter University Mindfulness Centre and the Oxford centre for CBT. This qualified me to offer 8 week MBCT courses to groups of adults with recurring depression, within the NHS. Further training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) enables me to run similar groups for those experiencing ongoing anxiety.
Mindfulness techniques merge well with CBT as they both recognise that thoughts are just thoughts, not necessarily the absolute truth and that if we allow them to pass, we prevent the emotional disturbances that often encourage more unhelpful thoughts…and so the cycle continues. By noticing the breath, we give ourself the chance to be more present in this moment, why don’t you try it now?…
Either in groups or individually, Mindfulness is a great stand alone or add on therapy that can enhance a continuing sense of wellbeing.
All of the above therapies are evidence based and are used extensively in the UK and beyond.