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.

082

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).

 

Landscape4213960

 

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.

 

shutterstock_117101743

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.

 

3D93355207

 

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

Four Levels of Happiness – Aristotle and REBT

15 Jul

Four Levels of Happiness – Aristotle and REBT

National Feel Good Day is launching on 19 July 2013 across the UK, where the entire nation is being called upon to dedicate time to paying compliments to friends, family and strangers alike and to celebrate feeling good.   Doing something for the benefit of another is one way to help your feel happier.

The Greek Philosopher Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) wrote that people strive for happiness and that happiness was the only thing that man seeks for its own sake.  Everything we strive for was for the purpose of happiness.  He said there are four levels of happiness.  This blog briefly looks at these four levels and explains the REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy) philosophy and view point in each.  REBT is one of the most influential schools of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and the one that underpins the teachings at The College of Cognitive Behaviour Therapies.

 

shutterstock_83348110 calming

 

 

Level 1

Aristotle said that the Level 1 happiness is felt when we get instant gratification.  This is feelings based, doing the things that feel instantly good.  Examples of instant gratification include: enjoying a good meal, sexual gratification, buying something we want, watching something we love like Tennis, Football or a Film, and so on.  He said that this type of happiness is short lived.  He also said it is unhealthy if one only pursues this type of happiness. 

This is similar to the REBT concepts of demanding beliefs where a person holds a core belief ‘I must feel immediately happy and therefore must do the things that provoke instant gratification’.  Obviously, wanting instant gratification is fine but insisting that you must have it becomes unhealthy because the demand must always be fulfilled in order to be happy at Level 1.  It can’t always be fulfilled.

 

006

 

Level 2

Aristotle said another way to feel happy is to strive for ‘ego’ gratification.  This is Level 2 happiness.  Examples of achieving Level 2 happiness include: being the best in the class, best looking, wealthiest, most liked, admired or respected, being the most powerful.  Again, there is nothing wrong with wanting these things provided you pursue them in healthy and balanced way.  Aristotle said such pursuits become unhealthy if you only pursue this type of happiness.  In REBT we say pursue your ‘enlightened self interest’, meaning do not demand it and do not define your worth by it.  It’s healthy to want to be the best but it doesn’t mean that it MUST be so.

 

059

 

Level 3 – National Feel Good Day

Another way to help your feel happy is to do things for the benefit of others. This is Level 3 happiness and it is about moving away from doing things just for your and doing something for someone else.  Examples of Level 3 happiness include: commitment, giving, loyalty, care, concern, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion and above all self-sacrifice.  This is a good thing to do and National Feel Good Day is about recognising this and doing it.  You know that you feel good when you receive a gift and also when you give a gift.  Receiving a gift is out of your control because it depends on someone else.  Giving a gift is within your control and it also provokes happiness.

 

069

 

Aristotle also recognised that this can be unhealthy you if this becomes your only way of making yourself happy.  In REBT we say that if you demand this of yourself, put yourself down when you don’t always put others first then you will experience emotional problems.   REBT says give love, you are in control of giving love to a project, to a hobby, people, society, animals but do not demand that it always has to be this way and do not define yourself as worthless if you don’t always give love. 

 

082

Level 4

Aristotle said that Level 4 happiness acknowledges that we all desire certain things and we all want life and other people to be a certain way you but there is acceptance of truth.  The truth that we are all imperfect human beings and that life is not always perfect.  Such a person enjoys a great inner peace because he or she no longer needs to be perfect and no longer needs others to be perfect.     This is idea is at the heart of REBT philosophy of healthy beliefs.  REBT says give up the demands.  Accept that you have desires and wants but that you do not need.  Accept yourself as imperfect, accept others are imperfect and accept that life is also imperfect at times.

So, be balanced and do Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 happiness but if you strive for the philosophic Level 4 happiness you will feel better and happier.  Mix it up and for this week let’s all go for Level 3 happiness and do something nice for someone else.

 

 

  

How it all began….

20 May

Although the college launched its first courses in October 2009 the actual idea for the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH) came about during the previous year, as most good ideas do, over a meal, at the end of a busy teaching weekend with Avy and Tony (Avy a decade earlier, had studied REBT with Windy Dryden gaining his MSc and he took to it like a duck to water.) Along with Maggie, Tony and Avy were the initial founders of the College.

 

Maggie Chapman

Maggie Chapman

 

A few short months later the CCBH was launched and the real work commenced!  There was a busy 6 months to launch, designing and refining the courses we developed.  We each came with strong ideas of what was important.  Ethics and exceptional learning experience with a strong desire that our students, when finishing their studies with us at whatever stage, would be confident, competent and informed was paramount.

 

Avy Joseph

Avy Joseph

 

Avy says: “After working as a hypnotherapist for many years I also became interested in the cognitive and behavioural aspects of hypnotherapy.  I pursued this interest in studying for a Master’s degree at Goldsmith College in Cognitive and Behavioural therapy.  My knowledge and confidence as a hypnotherapist grew and I started integrating the two with great results.  After running many Master Classes on specific topics combining these two styles of therapies and after listening to feedback from participants, I felt that it was time to develop a course for those students qualified in hypnotherapy and with an interest in cognitive behavioural therapy.  I initially wrote and developed a shortened version of our Diploma course in partnership with another training organisation.  After running that course for a few years and in discussion with Maggie and Tony, we decided to run cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy courses that were more in depth and effective and also contained other CBT models”.

We launched the opening of the College to coincide with the release of Avy’s first book ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ with a drinks party at our headquarters, 83 Baker Street in central London.  Our medical advisor Dr Claude Botha gave a fascinating and amusing presentation about Anxiety and how CBH can assist in its treatment.

Things move on and develop and as we approach our fourth anniversary, Tony has left to join a seminary in the Papal City and we have renamed the college to be the College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CCBT).  This incorporates our progression from the original three levels of training in CBH to three levels of training in CBT too.

CCBT-Logo

Windy Dryden is no longer our patron but guest lectures for us on our newly developed courses in CBT. Our lecturing team has continued to grow and we boast one of the strongest teams in the country of REBT specialist lecturers.

We have developed a wide suite of Master Classes from anxiety to mindfulness and the list continues to grow.

We are about to launch our distance learning modules to enable students to complete a large part of their studies in the comfort of their own homes and as we continue to develop will bring more of what we do online. Exciting times ahead…

What are you afraid of?

22 Apr

Most of us a little bit scared about one thing or another: scared of things that, for fairly rational reasons, we just don’t like, or would prefer to avoid. But, for some people, it’s something way more than being scared, it’s something beyond their control and it’s called a phobia.

A phobia is an anxiety disorder that’s commonly referred to as a persistent fear of an object or situation, one that the sufferer will either go to great lengths to avoid, or endure with marked distress. It’s a fear they recognise as irrational and one that is typically disproportionate to the danger actually posed by the thing itself.

The word comes from the Greek, Phóbos – meaning ‘fear’ or ‘morbid fear’ – and is itself a derivative of Phebomai – meaning ‘to flee’ or ‘withdraw’ – hence the running away from the thing that scares you.

shutterstock_132119546

In Greek mythology, Phobos was the god of fear and terror. It’s also the name of the largest of the two Mars moons.

In psychotherapy, there are three main types of phobia: social, specific and agoraphobia.

Social phobias are broken down into two types, generalised social phobia (or social anxiety) and specific social phobia (where the anxiety is triggered only in specific situations).

Specific phobias cover almost anything and everything else including fears of flying, animals, catching a specific illness, water, heights, clowns, buttons, injections, thunder, bridges and, even, work.

shutterstock_68473825

Each specific phobia has its own name. The fear of clowns, for instance, is called Coulrophobia (and no, it’s not just restricted to evil clowns, but covers the nice ones too) while the fear of work is known as Ergophobia.

shutterstock_87603607

There’s even a phobia that is culture specific, in that it’s almost exclusively experienced by Japanese people: Taijin Kyofusho, a fear of offending or harming other people.

Agoraphobia gets its only special category however, as it’s a much more complex affair (or multi-phobic, to be precise), and can include a generalised fear of leaving home or other safe places, coupled with a fear of having a panic attack, a fear of open spaces, of being socially embarrassed and more.

However, CBT is considered to be the gold standard treatment for anxiety disorders (including phobias) by the NHS.

Not only that, but lots of research highlights the efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of the same.

Put the two together and not only are you are looking at a more effective treatment package, but also faster results too (studies have shown that the two therapies together can be more effective and more rapid than when either one is used alone).

CBT has a very definite viewpoint on emotional problems, including phobias, namely it’s not the thing that disturbs you, but what you tell yourself about the thing that provokes your disturbance.

Unhealthy beliefs about a situation or an object will lead to an unhealthy and phobic you, whilst a healthy set of beliefs (whilst not quite having you fearless in the face of your thing) will lead to what we call healthy concern – a much more manageable emotion in which you realise, whilst you may never be comfortable around it, you can most definitely handle the ‘thing.’  (You can learn about these different types of emotions and what provokes them from our previous blogs or you can also check Visual CBT on Amazon by Avy Joseph and Maggie Chapman.)

Hypnotherapy in the context of beliefs can help support the work that CBT is trying to do.

However, it can also be used to gradually desensitise you to various aspects of your phobia (for instance, someone with a wasp phobia might have a phobic reaction on seeing pictures of wasps or even the word itself) as you build up to confronting the main event.

It can also be used to change your self-belief, mood and get better (typically, phobia suffers can suffer from depression and self esteem problems as a consequence of the phobia).

By-the-by, whilst the Office of National Statistics claim that 1.9 per cent of the adult UK population are phobic at any one time, animal phobia is the number one phobia in women, followed by heights; whilst heights is the number one phobia for men, followed by animals.

Finally, there are four states that are incompatible with fear: hunger, thirst, relaxation (which is why hypnotherapy works so well) and sex.

So, if you’re hungry, thirsty, under hypnosis or just plain …erm … “excited”, your phobia is not going to get a look in.