Tag Archives: anxiety and CBT

Solitude – why it’s good

23 Sep

“the state of being or living alone; seclusion: to enjoy one’s solitude.”

Most of us lead extremely busy lives these days. We spend at least 1 hour and 30 minutes each week stuck in traffic, over 30 minutes waiting for public transport due to traffic and road works, over an hour waiting in queues and shops, at least an hour dealing with bureaucracy and even longer trying find things we have misplaced at home. On average we spend one working day per week in these time consuming activities. On top of that working days are longer and we have access to many stimulants like the Internet, Twitter, Facebook and computer games. Time for taking a breath is a luxury for most.

Socrates said “An un-reflected life is not worth living”. This may be a tad strong of course but the point is reflecting on one’s life and taking stock every now helps us to grow, be thankful, question if we are happy and hopefully find solutions; to do that we need solitude. Solitude also allows us to just stop and take a breath and just be.

Great ideas and solutions more often stem from being alone with one’s thoughts.

For many people solitude is also a time to connect with greater things, for some it may be God or the higher self, and for others it may be nature or just being. This may be going to a place of worship such as a Church or walking in the countryside or just sitting in a park. For many people solitude is a time for nourishing the spirit.

 

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Why is it hard for some people?

Solitude is hard for some people because they have grown accustomed to a particular life style where being busy or being engaged in something external like Twitter or Facebook or the Internet is a buzz. Children are growing with over stimulation as a result of fast moving action packed games. The child grows into an adult who is unaccustomed to being OK with quite alone time.

For others it has become a luxury due to long working hours as well as having a busy family life.

For others it triggers anxiety. This is rather common. Some people think ‘I have to be doing something, being productive, because if I’m not it’s unbearable and proves I’m lazy’. So some people link it to their self worth and have low frustration tolerance to it.

For others it triggers anxiety about being alone. We have worked with many people, using Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) model that it based on Laws of Nature, whose anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia would make it impossible to sit alone and enjoy the solitude. The anxiety disorder itself is an obstacle to having solitude.

 

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How to achieve helpful solitude?

If someone does not get anxious about being alone, then there are many practical things to do. The most important step in creating time alone and solitude is setting a goal and then committing to it. It is vital that solitude is seen as a beneficial state first. You have to think of the benefits of solitude and make it significant. It has to be your personal goal.

1) Make solitude a goal and commit to it

2) Think of options available to you e.g. meditation classes, sitting in the park on for half an hour, walking, spending time alone in your home reflecting and so on.

3) Choose one or two

4) Do it regularly and consistently.

You don’t have to do this daily even though some people do of course. You can choose whether it’s once, twice, three times a week or even every other week. That too would be beneficial. You may decide to drive to the countryside every month or two. There are many alternatives, so be creative.

Anxious at the thought of taking time out?

If however, you become anxious at the thought of taking time alone or even being alone, then you need to explore what’s at the heart of your anxiety.

REBT, the philosophical CBT, has a simple explanation about why we feel anxious. It states that we feel anxious because we hold unhelpful or unhealthy beliefs and thoughts about something. There are four types of unhealthy beliefs that can trigger anxiety.

1) Absolutist thinking e.g. I must have feeling of excitement when I’m alone, I must not be bored, I have to be busy

2) Exaggerating the badness if the internal demand is not met e.g. it’s horrible to be alone, it’s terrible not to be busy

3) Low frustration tolerance if the demand is not met e.g. I can’t stand being alone, I can’t bear it if I’m not busy

4) Damning the self if the demand is not met e.g. If I’m not busy it proves I’m lazy and worthless

Such beliefs would trigger anxiety and most people have a tendency to avoid situations or states like solitude if it triggers anxiety.

Solution to anxiety about taking time out?

The solution is change the above beliefs by reflecting and realizing that they are not based in reality and that they are unhelpful if you want to make solitude a personal goal.

1) So accept that you don’t always ‘have to be busy’ for example

2) It’s not horrible or terrible even if you don’t want to do it often

3) You can stand it and bear it

4) You are not worthless if you take time alone

Initially as you practice solitude you may feel uncomfortable but keep thinking in the helpful and realistic way above and sit with this discomfort. After practicing this a few times you will become accustomed to solitude and from then on you will begin to have feelings of comfort and positivity about it. Your mind will then be free to just be, or to reflect.

People with anxiety disorders must first see their GP and perhaps consider therapeutic help.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Potent Combination – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Hypnosis

11 Apr

The combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Hypnosis is a potent one. Combining these two approaches appears to turbo charge the benefits of both approaches, in what is called Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy. Like many other winning combinations it appears that either approach used alone is reasonably effective for many people, but when used in conjunction by properly trained therapists the effect is dynamic. So, as someone who has been practicing this approach with my clients for over 5 years, as well as lecturing it at the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH), I thought I would attempt to explain why this should be the case…

Our minds are wonderful, creative, aspects of ourselves. When we are struggling to deal with difficult issues such as depression and anxiety, crippling panic or low self esteem,  it is the way in which we think about the events, or ourselves, which is the biggest culprit in maintaining the problem. The cognitive approach helps you to take on the role of a Detective and examine the beliefs and thoughts, which you are holding on to so tightly that your behaviours, thoughts and feelings are becoming problematic for you. When this is combined with the relaxation of hypnosis, the new way of thinking is integrated at a deeper, unconscious level which, for most people enables the changes to take place more quickly.

Our unconscious or subconscious minds are where all our habitual thoughts and responses are held. When we relax with hypnosis there is a direct route to our subconscious, bypassing the more critical conscious mind. Hypnosis alone is very effective in helping people to ‘feel’ better, but unless the faulty thinking is changed, it is likely that when faced with the same or similar situation, the unwanted response will remain and re-emerge over time.  Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy is designed to help a person get better.

 So, it is the combination of these two powerful approaches for change that is so effective for people dealing with emotional, behavioural and symptomatic problems.

 If you want to find out more about CBH, or are interested in becoming a CBH therapist, check out our website for CBH courses. At CCBH all the lecturers are practicing CBH therapists and are all MSc graduates from Goldsmiths College, University of London ensuring that the training students receive is of the highest standard.

 By Beverley Harper, Student Liaison and Lecturer at College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy.

Combating the anxiety enemy within

7 Jan

In today’s modern world we don’t seem to be able to take time out and relax.
It seems we are working harder, working longer, staying connected and
“plugged in” more each day and spending less time relaxing. Is it any wonder
then that many of us are suffering some form of Anxiety?

Elizabeth Machnicki, is a therapist in the Costwolds, who achieved a Diploma
from the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy
<http://www.ccbh.org.uk/diploma_in_cognitive_behavioural_hypnotherapy_london
>  last November. She contributed to an interesting article in the
Independent ( Supplement ‘Depression and Burnout, dated Dec 2010) all about
anxiety and so I thought I would share some of the article with you.

Anxiety disorders come in a number of different forms, and you can include
well known disorders such as OCD, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder
and panic attacks.  Anxiety problems are rarely experienced on their own,
all too often they occur along side other conditions, such as depression.
The one common thread though, is the massive impact anxiety can have on our
day to day lives.

Some facts and figures are always interesting at this point. 1 in 6 adults
at any one time will be affected by mental distress (Office for National
Statistics). According to MIND, around 300 people out of every 1,000 will
experience mental health problems every year in Britain, of these 230 will
visit a GP and 102 will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem. 6 of
these people will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals. Mixed anxiety
and depression (according to the Office for National Statistics 2000 survey)
is experienced by 9.2% of adults in Britain. That is a pretty high
percentage. So what are some good ways to combat anxiety?

Well I personally like to try and make myself relax, typically through some
form of exercise or spending some quality me time alone, have a nice
relaxing hot bath and more typically do brief self hypnosis which is incredible.
Other good things to try are swimming, Yoga and anything in general that
makes you feel more relaxed. But for some, anxiety will still be a problem.

Typically anxiety can start with feeling stress or under pressure. Often
early warning signs include not being able to sleep, worrying more, and
going over things more and more in your own mind.

So what happens if you start to suffer with an Anxiety disorder? Is there a
solution to Anxiety? Well the treatment with the best-established and most
thorough research is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on the
dysfunctional attitudes (for example negative and self-defeating thoughts)
that we have. The cognitive component looks at our thoughts, and how best to
deal with the bias we create with regards to how we think about certain
things.

In the article, Elizabeth explains how CBT though can be expanded to
Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), which combines the benefits of CBT
and clinical hypnotherapy. CBH gives both structure and flexibility to
therapy, which allows for a far more holistic and tailored approach. This is
what we teach at CCBH, the college of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy,
which Elizabeth attended. CBH is action-orientated and solution focused,
aiming to not only help the patient, but to equip them with the tools to
help combat against such symptoms in the future. Elizabeth also points out
that CBH is also very relaxing and provides the opportunity for positive
thinking and imagery, for example seeing themselves in the future – being
happy and as they would like to be.

So what do you think of CBT and CBH? What is your experience of it for
treating anxiety? We would love to know your thoughts. If you want to know
more about practising CBT or CBH, you can always contact us at the College
of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (http://www.ccbh.org.uk/).