I’ve recently re-started CBT. I’m not a newbie at this. It’s the third time I’ve been through this process.
Having gone through the process before I’ve had a real learning curve about what to expect and how to best use the time with the therapist
I think the first time I didn’t know what to expect, so just went along with what the therapist was telling me. I didn’t spend the time outside of the sessions working on what she’d told me. The second stint was better, but I really only dealt with the surface issues and the things that were bothering me at that exact time. And you need to probe below the surface to get the best results.
This time around, and since I’ve had a lot more time to think about it, I’ve tried really hard to come prepared with my issues and what I want to achieve from the sessions. It can be really difficult to drag up all of the horrible things that live in the back of your mind, and to challenge some of the deep-rooted ideas you hold about yourself.
The process itself is not enjoyable, but each week you can feel small changes taking place. For me it’s learning how to challenge negative thoughts and raising my self-esteem. Despite appearing to be a very confident person on a surface I struggle with compliments – if someone tells me that I’ve done a good piece of work I think that they’re saying everything I normally do is rubbish. Or if they say I look nice my brain processes that as either they mean I normally look horrible, or even worse that they’re saying it so they can laugh at me behind my back later. CBT is learning how to ignore the bad thoughts and take things for what they are, not always going straight for the negative.
Learning to rethink these things is very difficult alone, and having someone to talk to is very helpful. But you need to but in the work too outside of the session to get the most out of it.
This time I’ve found it’s really helped me to dig down into my thoughts to come with practically a list of bullet points to tell the therapist about. They have no ideas about who you are or what affects you so you really need to be open to them and explain things you might never have told anyone else before. The quicker you can do this the better so you can really get to work.
I think preparing yourself ahead of attending CBT will give you a good head start. There are a lot of resources online that can be incredibly helpful in working out what thoughts you really need to challenge about yourself to be on the road to recovery. It takes a huge amount of work and it’s very difficult, emotional, and stressful. I won’t lie. But every session should be taking you one step closer to overcoming your problems and getting back to who you really are.