Frequently Asked questions
Can I be on medication and attend CBT?
Yes you can, CBT and medication are not mutually exclusive. Medication is very useful at getting symptoms under control, if symptoms of anxiety or low mood are severe our motivation for therapy and our concentration for the work required suffers as does the effectiveness then of the therapy. Often a goal for clients in therapy will be to come off the medication in the future.
How long with therapy last?
This varies depending on the severity of the initial symptoms and the goals you have in mind for what you would like to achieve in therapy. Clients can see benefit from CBT in just a few sessions and for some clients this may be all they require. Through the NHS, CBT is generally offered with 6-8 session limits and good results can be achieved but the advantage of the private therapy setting is the possibility of further sessions to challenge longer term problems and achieve all of your goals.
How often do we meet?
It is important to meet regularly and consistently in order to build on our learning so sessions generally take place either weekly or fortnightly. I can advice on this based on the type of work I feel we need to be doing - generally I find weekly works best starting out, moving to fortnightly sessions when clients become more independent with therapeutic work outside of the sessions. Of course time and budget restraints will also play a part.
What if you can't help me?
I will always be able to help in some manner, it may be educating you on your symptoms or teaching short terms methods and techniques you could use to better deal with the symptoms in the short term. Sometimes though I may feel that I am not the right therapist to be of best service to you, this could be due to a lack of training or perhaps feeling you would benefit more from multiple inputs from specialists in varied fields - that I perhaps lack experience in. I would always aim to help you find and contact different support services if I felt I couldn't be of service.
What alternatives are there if I can't afford CBT?
The therapy process is a financial investment that you need to be willing and capable to meet. I have found that those who are stretching themselves financially to undergo therapy do not always gain maximum benefit from the process. Skipping sessions due to financial constraints disrupts progress and impacts on the efficiency of our work. I would advise clients to budget in a way that enables them to be fully committed to the process.
If you feel that therapy is too expensive at this current moment then there are alternative options. Speak with your GP to see if your local GP surgery offers any kind of counselling service, generally they can refer you to some 6-8 week based therapy program which can be of great benefit and highly effective in dealing with short term difficulties. If you are in acute distress at any time or wish to simply speak with someone right now, charity organisations like the Samaritans or Lifeline offer counselling services where you can call and discuss how you are feeling right now. Lifeline employs professional counsellors and they may be able to put you in touch with counselling services in your area. I worked for the TASHA foundation in the past and they offer an online instant messaging service, again available 24 hours a day and free of charge. If you are motivated enough, the right self help books can teach valuable CBT skills and make a big difference. Check out the Resources section of my site for further information on all of this.
Would it benefit me?
I truely believe that everyone could benefit from some CBT input - even if it is just to help understand the effects of our thoughts and to have a greater awareness of them or to better understand the stressors in our lifes and how they might impact on us. CBT is the choice treatment for Mild to Moderate Depression according to NICE guidelines and the same guidelines for clinical excellence recommend CBT for treatment of moderate to severe anxiety.
I am fully trained to work with: Depression, Specific Phobias, Social Phobia, Self-esteem, Anger, OCD, GAD, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Health Anxiety, PTSD and Bereavement.
What is CBT about?
CBT is a form of talking therapy and a form of counselling. It offers a safe environment where you can discuss the issues you are facing in your life with a professional qualified therapist who will listen without prejudice or judgement and help you reflect. The therapist will look to understand your situation and how you feel and in explaining it all often the client gains many great insights and better understanding of their current situation themselves.
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and focuses on our Cognitions (our thoughts) and our Behaviours. CBT teaches skills and techniques that can be used to better understand how we are thinking in a situation and to then challenge the rationality of these thoughts. It gets us to consider whether or not we are thinking in a logical way, in a helpful way and in a way that offers a true representation of the situation rather than a perspective biased by our previous experiences of how we believe the world should work. CBT heps us to understand that how we think in a situation has a direct impact on the emotions and physical reactions that follow and all factors help dictate how we may then behave. CBT studies our behaviour to notice patterns and how these seemingly logical patterns actually work against us and make us feel worse in situations rather than better.
Do I have to do anything between sessions?
Yes. At the end of each session I will generally set you a task to aim to complete over the following week or two. These tasks are designed to get you considering and thinking more about what we discussed in session that week. These "homework" tasks, if completed will really benefit your progress through therapy. Homeworks will be set collaboratively and will alway be easily achieveable. Unlike school there will be no penalties or reprimands for not completing homework, obviously life gets in the way sometimes but a bit like what would be said to you at school, if you persistently don't complete your homeworks - "you are only hindering yourself".
Working with a CBT therapist is a bit like working wth a personal trainer for your physical health, I can teach techniques, skills and better help you understand. I can motivate and encourage you and offer all the best information but ultimately success will depend on the work you put in, often outside the therapy room.
Can I stop when I want?
Yes, The therapy is a service that you are paying for and that you therefore lead. If at any point you wish to bring therapy to an end then you may do so. However there can be no guarentees that therapy will automatically recommence should you change your mind as I may have taken on further clients.
Does anyone need to know I am seeing you?
No, I don't inform anybody that you are attending therapy. I do take your GPs details at the start of therapy should at some point I feel it would be of benefit to speak with him for a broader view of your current situation but to date I am yet to do this and if I did they would only be informed that I am currently seeing you, no confidential information discussed in session would be shared without your knowledge.
Is this confidential?
Yes, everything that gets said in the therapy remains in the therapy room, the only exclusions being if I believed you were a risk to yourself or others or if I believed you knew of a crime committed or to be committed - in these cases, GPs or appropriate authorities would need to be informed. I follow BACP rules and guidelines surrounding Confidentiality.
Where do sessions take place?
Sessions take place in a private office space in the centre of Bangor, County Down.
Can I pay using health insurance?
You would need to contact your health insurance provider with regards to this, I am happy to provide receipts as required.