Archive | August, 2013

Are you compassionate?

30 Aug

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama

The two most common emotional problems that people seek help for are depression and anxiety, and both of these emotional problems can be very disabling, and lead to a all sorts of problems in simply getting on with life and dealing with the day-to-day challenges that we all face as we deal with work, relationships, and even our social life. REBT teaches us that when we are depressed and experiencing anxiety symptoms, we also feel bad about ourselves, and talk unkindly to ourselves, berating ourselves for failures, and vulnerabilities which, when not anxious or depressed, we can usually overlook, and allow for. Albert Ellis calls this tendency to criticise, ‘self-depreciation’ or ‘self-damning’ and most of us are familiar with it, as a large majority of us experience these two emotions to a greater or lesser degree at some point in our lives. We are our own worst critics.

Some theorists have divided depression into two categories in this context; self-blame and self-pity. Self-blame usually involves a theme of ‘bad me’. Self-pity, on the other hand usually involves a theme of ‘poor me’, otherwise referred to as ‘victimhood’. When experiencing this kind of extremely exaggerated and biased self-talk, we listen to our own inner voice criticising us, and we don’t for one second judge it to be harsh or biased, and we usually accept such thoughts as being justified and deserved, and reflective of a reasonable evaluation of our worth. In other words we treat ourselves, and talk to ourselves with a marked lack of self-compassion.

Usually, when we talk about compassion, we refer to our compassion for others, both specifically for individuals, but also generally for groups of people. Most of us understand compassion to be a godly virtue and indicative of good character and personality. It is not so common to find people thinking about compassion for ourselves.

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The origins of the word “compassion” are Latin, (com) ‘with’ and (passion) ‘to suffer’, (as in the ‘passion’ of Christ). When we talk of compassion today it is with a meaning of patience, understanding, tolerance, and acceptance. All of this we find difficult enough when it comes to feeling it, practicing it and extending it to others, but we are spectacularly unsuccessful at doing the same for ourselves, especially when we are depressed or anxious. Consequently, and move we can make toward extending compassion to ourselves is part of a healing process, as we return to a more balanced and emotionally even frame of mind.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy is all about belief change, and is a very adaptive tool when it comes to re-learning some of the compassion we used to feel toward ourselves before we became depressed or anxious, and together with these emotions we can add others which feature a lack of compassion; guilt, unhealthy anger (rage), shame, jealousy, hurt, and envy. Using hypnosis and the CBH process we can learn to be kinder to ourselves and more accepting of our ‘fallibility’ as human beings. It is sometime very surprising how quickly change can take place when we start to talk to ourselves differently and with self-compassion, allowing and accepting our vulnerabilities as evolutionary beings.

Paul Gilbert (author of The Compassionate Mind) repeats frequently, ‘It’s not your fault, so stop blaming yourself’. When we are self-compassionate, we allow for the fact that we are human beings who are evolving in an ever-changing world, and the pace of change is accelerating all around us. Is it any surprise that we struggle to keep up, and have a tendency to blame ourselves for not being as efficient as the technologies we are now producing and using?

Put simply, if we can learn to talk to ourselves with greater kindness, and understanding, tolerance and compassion, our brains quite literally re-wire, and unpleasant and unhealthy negative emotions find it less easy to thrive within us. CBH is one of the best strategies we have for bringing about the changes we can benefit from and so the sooner we start to use it, the sooner we notice changes within our own emotional landscape. Our training in CBH uses the structure and philosophies of REBT which is a humanistic model of CBT. This is then combined with hypnosis where relevant to create emotive, compassionate, goal focused therapy.

Training to Be a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist – My experience

13 Aug

I have just completed my Advanced Diploma exam at CCBT. The journey to this point has taken just over a year to complete taking the fast track route Foundation, Diploma before the Advanced Diploma courses. In this time I have learned huge amounts about myself, my fellow students and people in general. I am now a practicing CBH therapist and believe the courses have equipped me for this demanding and rewarding role. All the staff at CCBT willingly share their wealth of experience (without breaking confidentiality of course), are skilled trainers and are all thoroughly good people. The course materials are packed with pragmatic, useful, and concise information and the course assessments are challenging and thoughtfully designed to embed the underlying principles, core structure and key concepts of CBT / REBT.

Becoming a therapist wasn’t the main motivation for me when signing up for the Foundation course. Initially, the main reasons were personal (I wanted to learn more about self hypnosis and to understand more about depression and anxiety as I have friends and family members with these conditions) and professional (as a learning and development consultant, trainer, coach and mentor, I often work with people who have lost their confidence, have limiting beliefs about their potential and do not have any effective strategies to cope with stress and mental anguish).

 

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With this in mind, whilst being absorbed by the subject matter in and for itself, the main question I always had at the forefront of my thinking was: ‘‘How will this new knowledge be useful to me and how can I apply it?” It quickly became clear to me that the CBH concepts, skills and strategies would help me in relation to: (i) coping with my own challenges, insecurities, irrational demands and unhealthy emotions; (ii) understanding how to help and guide (though not treat) friends when they experience unhealthy, negative emotions; (iii) my role as a learning and development coach and consultant; (iv) my role as a potential CBH therapist.

The course has been fantastic in exceeding my hopes and expectations. On a personal level I have become closer to a family member now I understand her behaviour more and at work there have already been loads of benefits. Recently, for example, I undertook a training event with participants from all over England, called ‘Mindset and Mindfulness’. This was heavily influenced by what I’ve learned on the three CBH courses.

There is a quotation from Abraham Maslow that has always resonated with me; “To learn and not to do, is not to learn”. This has become my guiding principle in relation to CBH. Even though at the moment I am busy with my primary occupation as a learning and development consultant, I have decided to always be working with at least one therapeutic client at any given time, to cement my classroom learning with real therapeutic experience. My short term goal is to help people to cope more effectively with challenging events and psychological conditions. Going forward five years or more, I would love to have the breadth of experience and competence as a therapist to deliver courses of this nature and inspire other people, as I have been inspired by the whole experience at CCBT.

By Bob Craig

Maximise Your Full Potential with REBT!

12 Aug

A great Summer of sport has highlighted several major achievements by our British athletes, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, Chris Froome winning the Tour de France and of course Mo Farah to name but a few. Clearly all of these individuals have worked hard both mentally and physically to unleash their full potential

 

Maxisport/Shutterstock.com

Maxisport/Shutterstock.com

 

In the 1950s, Albert Ellis pioneered a new type of psychotherapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy. Ellis held that the real reason his clients disturbed themselves had nothing to do with their childhoods (as advocated by Freud) but everything to do with their irrational beliefs. Intriguingly Ellis discovered that all his clients shared a number of similar irrational beliefs and that these irrational beliefs are usually accompanied by “shoulds” and “musts”.

A person may believe for example that he must have the love of a particular person, or that he should not have to go on multiple job interviews and risk rejection, or that he should never have to control anger, or that he must have the continual, unfailing devotion of loved ones…or it is the end of the world. Ellis also believed that humans are flawed and highly fallible, no matter how great our strengths. We may feel terrific after a great action or turn of events, but we also feel bad after something bad happens. Managing the opinions of others is even more difficult, because we can never please everybody. Instead of basing our self-worth on our actions and accomplishments we should accept ourselves unconditionally. We may rate our actions as good, bad, successful or unsuccessful, but this does not mean that it has to reflect on our self worth. REBT demonstrates that challenging these irrational thoughts allows you to focus on reality and make decisions based on rationality. Rather than avoidance taking constructive positive action allowing you to maximise your full potential.

So as we observe Murray and his preparations for his challenge to regain the American Open Title we can reflect that had he believed he absolutely “must” win Wimbledon or it was the “end of the world”, or based his self worth on the opinion of others (which for a long time was definitely not positive!) we may well have been waiting for another 77 years for a British champion.

 

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You Don’t Have to go to the Wilderness to Conquer OCD!

5 Aug

The current BBC Three documentary “Extreme OCD Camp” highlights the excessive lengths that sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder will go to try to cope with their condition. However, it is not necessary to take such extreme measures, as you will find out later in this blog.

 

Surprisingly many very successful people suffer from OCD including David Beckham, captain of England, part of the Olympic bid and the face of numerous advertising campaigns. Beckham has admitted he hates odd numbers and is obsessed with symmetry – if there’s three of something; he has to hide the third somewhere out of sight. If something is askew, he can’t rest until the row has been straightened. Before he can settle into a hotel room, he says he puts all of the books and pamphlets together in a drawer. Others celebrities such as Cameron Diaz have admitted to washing her hands constantly and to opening the doors with her elbows. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Whilst some of this behaviour may sound bizarre and even faintly amusing, for people who struggle with more serious OCD however, it is absolutely no joke and completely dominates their lives.

 

The World Health Organization lists OCD as among the 10 biggest causes of disability, yet many sufferers keep their illness hidden and the condition is often the subject of skepticism and derision.

OCD has two main features: obsessions, such as constant unpleasant and intrusive thoughts about issues such as contamination and symmetry; and compulsions, the irresistible urge to behave in a certain way.

 

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Men and women are equally affected, and OCD is thought to run in families, suggesting it may have a biological cause. Some research has shown that changes in brain activity and pattern may also cause the condition, and it often occurs alongside other illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.

 

Most importantly Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), an influential school of CBT, are recommended by National Health as the first line therapy for OCD

A central tenant of REBT is that it is not events themselves that cause psychological disturbance but the view that we take of these events, our beliefs, which may be rational or irrational. People with OCD believe that their obsessions will somehow lead to disastrous outcomes for themselves or others. This sense of responsibility leads to self-denigration and heightened anxiety. In order to reduce their anxiety, they perform compulsive behaviours. When their anxiety is reduced and nothing catastrophic happens, the compulsions are reinforced strengthening the likelihood of repetition.

 

REBT helps the people to recognize that their anxiety and distress are provoked by their irrational thoughts and beliefs. They are taught how to dispute these and replace them with more rational coping statements. They are helped to develop unconditional self-acceptance about themselves and their condition enabling them to understand that compulsions are only temporarily anxiety reducing. It helps them to learn to tolerate their anxiety without resorting to compulsive behavior. As well as minimizing their low frustration tolerance about their OCD it also shows them through the use of other to cognitive, emotive, and behavioral techniques to cut down OCD’s primary symptoms of self-defeating counting, checking, repeating, ordering, and other obsessive-compulsive rituals.

 

Many people leave it for years before seeking treatment for their OCD (typically 12 years). So you don’t have to go to the Wilderness and you don’t have to suffer in silence, learn and try REBT, the CBT therapy that works on the symptom as well as providing a philosophy on life. http://tinyurl.com/poy4ln6