It can be frustrating if you’re not seeing the results that you’re hoping for when you start a course of Psychotherapy. There can be several reasons for this, and one of them is that you might not be getting the type of Therapy you think…
Am I Actually Getting CBT?
We’ve written this article in particular because lots of people are now recommended a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for their problems, but might be finding that it isn’t as effective as they were expecting. In fact, at our Clinics we’ve recently seen a trend in people contacting us because they’re frustrated by the length of time it’s taking to get results with their current Therapy. CBT certainly isn’t a miracle cure, and it does take time, however generally it should be a much quicker Psychological Therapy than most. Often people might be having a course of private Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and start to wonder ‘am I actually getting CBT’ when they notice that time is going by with no real changes happening to their problems.
One of the reasons it’s a good idea to ask whether you’re actually getting CBT is because currently in the UK a Therapist doesn’t have to be legally registered – or even qualified in order to provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or call themselves a CBT Therapist. This really concerns lots of qualified CBT Therapists, and is something that Dynamic You feels very strongly should be changed.
That’s because, with most areas of healthcare there are very strong regulations in order to make sure that people get safe and effective medical treatments. For example with Psychologists or Doctors, have certain qualifications and registrations by law in order to practice, but Psychotherapists don’t. Unfortunately at the moment that can mean that many people are claiming to offer CBT, but in reality are actually proving their clients with very different types of Therapy – or even basic forms of counselling sessions whilst calling it CBT.
So what can you do to make sure that you’re actually receiving the treatment that you need? Well, there are several ways that you can start to get answers to the question ‘am I actually getting CBT’, and here they are:
5 Questions To Ask Yourself…
What Do My Sessions Involve?
CBT is designed to be a really practical type of Psychotherapy. So a good course of CBT should help you to understand your problems better, including what keeps them going – as well as giving you tools and strategies you can actually use to deal with them. So although CBT is called a Talking Therapy, it’s sometimes better to understand it as a ‘doing Therapy’ instead. For lots of psychological problems there just isn’t a way you can ‘talk’ your way out of it with a Therapist – that’s why real CBT will give you practical techniques and ideas to try between sessions.
This is a bit different to counselling sessions, which tend to focus more on giving you a place to talk with someone impartial about your life, without necessarily focusing so much on psychological skills, exercises and tools that you can develop.
How Is My Therapist Measuring Problems & Progress?
One way CBT Therapists know how to approach Therapy with you in the best way, is by using special questionnaires and symptom checklists for your problems. These help them to match the symptoms you are experiencing against scientific research so that they can pick the best techniques to give you based on what has already been shown to be most effective.
These questionnaires are also an excellent way to measure whether the things you are doing in Therapy are actually working too! It’s often really helpful to know if your symptoms are improving, and how quickly. Your Therapist should tell you about any questionnaires they give you, and also explain what types of changes they will be watching out for as you move through treatment.
You can explore and complete some common CBT based questionnaires on our website here. It’s important to remember though that these will only give you an indication of possible problem areas and shouldn’t be used to ‘self diagnose’ yourself.
What Accreditations Does My Therapist Hold?
Generally, CBT Therapists will already be qualified mental health professionals who have chosen to undertake further specialist training in order to become CBT Therapists. Often they might be Medical Doctors, Occupational Therapists, Mental Heath Social Workers or Psychiatric Nurses before specialising further. On average it takes around 5 years to train in CBT, on top of their existing mental health qualifications. This tends to mean that most good CBT Therapists will have at least 10-15 years of significant mental health experience under their belts before they meet you.
In the UK, a leading organisation that accredits CBT Therapists with the minimum levels of qualifications and experience required is the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). If you are looking for treatment privately then you can be much more sure you are actually getting CBT by seeing a BABCP accredited CBT Therapist. Whilst there are other organisations out there that register and accredit Therapists, often the standards required in order to register with them are much lower than would be required for the BABCP or to work as a Therapist in the NHS.
How Long Have I Been In Therapy?
When people have contacted our clinic and asked if they are actually getting CBT, one of the first questions we ask is ‘how long have you been having Therapy?’
Sometimes the answers to this can be quite surprising, with some people saying that they have been in Therapy constantly for between a year and six years. Whilst having a longer course of CBT is sometimes required, it’s generally very unusual to have a CBT course that lasts for more than 40 sessions, or a year. In fact the recommendations for treating most problems vary between 8 and 16 sessions.
Sometimes, for longer-standing issues, it can be helpful to extend Therapy if you’re making progress and need a little longer in order to fully get to where you hope, or to reduce the risks of problems coming back again. However a CBT Therapist would only advise doing this if you were already seeing benefits to the work you had done together already.
This way it shouldn’t be the case that lots of time goes by in CBT without you either seeing some positive changes or re-thinking the approach that you and your Therapist are taking.
How Much Does My Therapist Charge?
At the moment, in the UK, Private CBT fees on average cost between £75 to £250 a session, with a BABCP accredited Therapist. Often counsellors may charge a lot less for sessions (usually between £20-65 per session). The reason that there’s often a difference comes down to the amount of experience and education that the Therapist has.
Whilst it’s important to consider how you’ll be able to afford Therapy, it’s usually much more important to think about what you are hoping to achieve from it. For example, if you think that CBT is likely to be most useful to you, then we wouldn’t advise you to try it with someone simply because they are cheaper. Often it’s far better to ensure that you really are getting when you need, as opposed to something you can afford that doesn’t help you get the results you are looking for. In the same way, you wouldn’t invite a podiatrist to do open heart surgery on you simply because they were cheaper than seeing a proper surgeon!
Hopefully this has given you some ideas about some areas to look for in a good course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – so that you can ask yourself, ‘am I actually getting CBT?’ If not, we’d love to you to Contact Us so we can help even more…