Tag Archives: CBH

How to cope more effectively with work-related stress

16 Sep

Work-related stress is one of the biggest (and most modern) blights to our physical and emotional wellbeing. According to research last year from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), staff sickness cost the UK over £6.5bn. The report also said that staff absenteeism cost the average company about £620,000 a year.

 

Meanwhile, The Labour Force Survey 2011/12 found that around 22.7 million working days were lost last year because of work-related illnesses, whilst another, more recent, study of over 3,000 people discovered that one in three said their stress was work-related.

 

That’s a lot of lost money, a lot of lost days and a lot of unhappy workers!

 

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Work stress can come in a variety of guises, be it long hours, a workload that’s far too heavy, deadlines that are way too intense, interpersonal difficulties (such as not getting on with your manager), performance expectations, boredom, the threat of redundancy, and more; the list goes on.

 

Stressed out employees are more likely too feel irritable, experience mood swings, feel unable to cope and generally lead less productive working lives than their more relaxed counterparts.

 

Work stress itself can lead to a multitude of disorders including anxiety, depression, anger management issues, panic attacks, insomnia, alcohol and drug problems, even tension headaches and migraines.

 

The Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE) define stress as, “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work,” while the British Standards Institution (BSI) says, “Stress manifests as a physical, psychological or social dysfunction resulting in individuals feeling unable to bridge the gap with the requirements or expectations placed upon them.”

 

Technically, stress is the manifestation of the flight-or-fight response, a much-needed safety mechanism that helps alert you to danger and take the appropriate action. However, it’s meant to be a one-off reaction to specific challenges and pressures. Once the danger is over, the body (and the person that inhabits it) can return to normal.

 

Sadly, modern life is a never-ending series of threats and pressures and so the chemicals associated with the fight-or-flight response are constantly dumping toxins in the body, creating physical and emotional ill health.

 

But, there are things you can do to help restore that balance and become a healthy and productive working member of society once more and no, we’re not talking about changing your job!

 

Sure, it’s an option but, it’s one that’s a little drastic for some and nigh on impossible for others. Also, it doesn’t change the nature of the beast. What if the new job is even more pressurised than the last?

 

Which is where cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH) comes in very handy indeed.

 

CBH follows the philosophy that it is not the events in life that disturb you, but the views that you take of those events that disturbs you. So, if you’re thinking, feeling and acting in a way that you don’t like, but don’t seem to be able to change, we don’t look at the ‘thing’ we look at what you are telling yourself about the ‘thing.’

 

Change what you tell yourself, and you can change how you think, feel and act.

 

Work, then, is the ‘thing’ CBH can help you change your perceptions of. A trained professional can help you cope with pressure more effectively, facilitate solutions to difficult workloads and deadlines, aid you in dealing with those irksome interpersonal difficulties in a better way, conquer your angers and anxieties and lead to an altogether healthier, happier and more productive you.

 

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CBH, in the form of therapy, is an excellent tool for helping you manage your work-related stress. However, when delivered in the form of workshops (and yes, we are talking to all you HR managers out there) it can be an excellent form of prevention.

 

Just think what it would mean for your company and your staff if you could head stress off at the pass?

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.

Tis the season to be jolly!

17 Dec

However, often this is not the case as Christmas is the most likely time of the year to experience depression.

To many people this will be a bewildering fact; surely Christmas should be viewed as a joyous occasion, spent with friends and family, having fun and enjoying the time spent together.

So what is it about this time of year that people depress themselves about?

  • Christmas is a time of great expectations. We demand that perfect Christmas experience.
  • We can become overwhelmed by a sense of failure and disconnection.
  • It may be helpful to consider the true meaning of Christmas. The message is always there – celebration, peace and good will to all.
  • By accepting reality; reducing unrealistic expectations and demands; by not getting lost in all the Christmas hype; we can use the time to invest in our relationships, and ensure this Christmas is a highly rewarding one.

 

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) can help identify the expectations and interpretations that can lead towards depression and anxiety; adjust to reality and break through avoidances and inhibitions. Implementation of CBH can help you change your cognitive processes, which then leads to changes in your feelings and behaviours.

For more information on the treatment of reactive depression using cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH), you may be interested in our Master Class

History of Mental Health Treatment

6 Sep

For this blog post, we decided to write a potted history of the development of mental health treatment over the ages, having found an interesting article on this topic. It is amazing to see how treatment has progressed to where we are today…

Mental Health treatment has come a long way

The treatment and support offered to people suffering from mental health problemsthroughout history has been both complex and bizarre. Although well intentioned, the lack of understanding and knowledge often led to inhumane and distressing events.

Looking at early beliefs, we can see a pattern emerging. The most common cause was believed to be demonic possession or some other supernatural force. For example as early as 5000 BC, early man believed that mental health problems were the result of supernatural phenomena, as can be seen by   the discovery of trepanned skulls, where holes were made in the skull to release the ‘demon’. In ancient Mesopotamia, the sufferers were treated using exorcisms, incantations, prayer, atonement, and other various mystical rituals in an effort to drive out the evil spirit.

Hebrews believed that all illness was inflicted upon humans by God as punishment for committing sin, and therefore Priests would appeal to God as the ultimate healer to cure the sickness.  Ancient Persians attributed illness to demons and believed that good health could be achieved through proper precautions to prevent diseases.

As we move forward in time, there seems to be more understanding and attempts at therapy start to include engagement of the brain and thought processes. Indeed the Ancient Egyptians recommended that those afflicted should engage in recreational activities such as concerts, dances, and painting in order to relieve symptoms and achieve some sense of normalcy.

The Greek physician Hippocrates denied that people suffered from mental health problemsdue to supernatural forces and instead proposed that it stemmed from natural occurrences in the human body, particularly pathology in the brain. Although, of course a far more enlightened belief, this resulted in treatments such as emetics and laxatives being used or patients were bled using leeches. Not so enlightened!

By the time we arrive in the sixteenth century, the shame and stigma attached to mental health problems often caused people to hide their family members suffering from mental health problems or simply abandon them, leaving them to a life of begging and vagrancy. Asylums began to be established around the world, but living conditions were often deplorable and there were very little attempts at treatment or support of the patients.

Obviously reform was needed!

Philippe Pinel in 1792, showed that patients with mental health problems would improve, if they were treated with kindness and consideration. Further advances were made with the development of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that anxiety arose as different parts of the human mind battled each other, resulting in mental health problems. The resulting treatments created by Freud are known as psychoanalysis, or “talking cures” and began with hypnosis.

Other treatments about this time included electroconvulsive therapy and psychopharmacology, which were designed to correct a patient’s chemical imbalance. This was further developed with the first shock therapy using electricity in 1938. Anti-psychotic drug therapy became more common in the 1940s, such as thorazine, valium and prozac, although these treatments were only able to control the symptoms. This led to many people being convinced that all illnesses could be effectively managed with medication, and resulted in patients once again being left unsupported.

So having looked at this history as a whole, we find there have been much needed developments in mental health care but improvement was still needed…

In more recent times we have seen the evolution of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This took place in three stages.  The first stage was when behaviour therapy started to emerge independently, in both UK and America. The second stage was the growth of cognitive therapy, which took place in America during the mid-1960s. The third stage was the merging of behaviour and cognitive therapy into cognitive behaviour therapy, in the late 1980s. CBT is now widely accepted and is practised by a growing number of clinicians.  It is, probably, the most broadly and confidently endorsed form of psychotherapy.  CBT dominates clinical research and practice in many parts of the world. CBT is also advocated by the NHS as part of the treatment process. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), the combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Hypnosis, which is of particular interest to us at the college, is proving to be extremely effective in the treatment and support of patients.

Look out for another blog post coming soon with more on the evolution of CBT.

Emotions

22 Jun

Over the next few months we will be writing about the different types of emotions we feel and why we feel them.  The explanation will be based on the Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), one of the main schools of cognitive behaviour therapy. 

REBT posits it is not the event, but the belief or view you hold about the event, which is at the heart of emotional states and behavioural tendencies.   The event can be something that has happened in the past, something that is happening now or something that could happen in the future.  It can also be real, imaginary or internal or external. 

Beliefs can be healthy or unhealthy.  Healthy beliefs provoke healthy negative emotions about adverse events, whilst unhealthy beliefs provoke unhealthy negative emotions about adverse events.  Many people think mistakenly think that any negative emotion is a problem and as such should be ‘worked on’.  This is not true. 

Unhealthy beliefs provoke unhealthy negative emotions like anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, hurt, hurt, jealousy, shame/embarrassment and unhealthy envy.

The healthy counterpart beliefs provoke healthy negative emotions like concern, sadness, annoyance, remorse, disappointment, concern for one’s relationship, regret and healthy envy. 

Diagram 1 shows the relationship between events, beliefs and their consequences.  Diagram 2 shows the emotional pairs and the themes of the beliefs that provoke them.  For example, Anxiety and Concern are emotional pairs.  Anxiety is the unhealthy emotion provoked by an unhealthy belief about a perceived threat or risk, while Concern is the healthy negative emotion provoked by a healthy belief about perceived threat or risk.

Events, beliefs and their consequences

Events, beliefs and their consequences

Beliefs

Healthy and unhealthy beliefs

The first blog will be on the emotional pair of Anxiety and Concern.   This will be published next week.  We hope you will find it interesting and helpful.

Panic Disorder

11 Jun

The term panic is derived from the name of the Greek god Pan.  According to mythology the cloven footed dwarfish Pan was lonely and moody.  He had an impish sense of humour and if a human passed his cave he would jump out with a shrill and terrifying scream.  The acute terror felt by the human came to be known as Panic.

Ok so we know where the name panic comes from, but what happens when we experience panic…

Many of us in our lives will have suffered with some form of panic attack. Panic attacks can be brought on by all sorts of things, but they typically begin abruptly, may reach a peak within 10 minutes and can last anything from a few minutes to hours.  Panic attacks that continue for a longer period are often triggered by a situation from which the sufferer desires to escape, with some making frantic efforts to escape, which maybe violent if others attempt to stop them. 

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder: severe recurring panic attacks

The effects of a panic attack, for the first time, often lead the sufferer into fearing they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown, prolonging the attack itself. It is said that experiencing a panic attack is one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of a person’s life. Now imagine, what it is like to suffer with a form of panic attacks on a regular basis? This is exactly what people have to endure who suffer from a panic disorder. A panic disorder is an anxiety disorder, which is characterized by the individual suffering severe recurring panic attacks.

It is estimated that at least 2 million people in the UK alone suffer from panic attacks, for some, these attacks become more regular and lead to more challenging cases of panic disorder.

 

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of an attack include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Perspiration
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Uncontrollable fear
  • Sweating
  • Chocking sensation
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling,
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Faintness
  • A sense of altered reality

In addition, the sufferer also has thoughts of impending doom and catastrophe, this can be expressed as “something awful/terrible is happening to me, I’m in real danger.” 

According to DSM IV (American Psychiatric Association 1994) a panic disorder is defined by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of either:

  1. Persistent anxiety about having more attacks
  2. Worry about the possible implications or consequences of the attacks
  3. A marked change in behaviour as a result of the attacks (e.g. avoiding situations associated with attacks, such as quitting a stressful job)
  4. During the episodes, at least four of the sensations/feelings are experience as listed in the common symptoms of a panic attack above
  5. These attacks are not directly caused by a drug or a general medical condition

 

Beating Panic Disorder

Treatments that are best effective against panic disorder offer a full a response as possible, and minimise the chances of relapse – this is imperative. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association primarily recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for treating panic disorder. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) builds on the structure provided by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and introduces a hypnosis and hypnotherapy element. This use of hypnotherapy is another tool in the fight against panic disorder.

It is worth remembering that sufferers are individuals, and as such, a case by case approach to treatment is required. This is something the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH) strongly believes in.

Therapists who attend one of the Colleges Master Classes in treating panic disorder are given not only the background knowledge they require in psychopathology and natural history of panic disorder, but information on how best to identify the right treatments for individuals. Therapists who attend one of the Colleges Master Classes in Treating Panic Disorder will learn:

  • Major theories when dealing with Panic Disorder
  • Available treatments and reviews of these treatments (including drug treatments)
  • How best to formulate an individual case
  • Hypnotherapy protocol – session by session treatment
  • Strategies and guidelines for dealing with challenging cases

CBT and CBH provide a full treatment for panic disorder and provide the sufferer with the tools to help them beat panic attacks and stop them re-occurring. By doing this, the individual has the tools at their disposal to beat panic disorder.

If you want to learn how to use Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy to successfully treat panic disorder, then you can attend one of the Master Classes that specialise in Treating Panic Disorder, held by the college.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy and Addictions

23 May

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) can be used for a wide range of everyday problems, ranging from anxiety to depression, self esteem issues and procrastination. It can even be used to help individuals deal with all sorts of addictions, including smoking, gambling and drinking.

Addiction

Controlling your mind will help beat addiction.

Using hypnotherapy to deal with addictions is quite common. In a recent article, Indian police hired a hypnotherapist to help many of their police officers from addictions to drinking alcohol and smoking.

Why do we become addicted?

There are many reasons why people become addicted to something, some of us have personalities that are naturally more open to becoming addicted than others. Remember that addiction doesn’t always manifest itself in the form of things we typically see as bad for us. There are many cases of people becoming addicted to keeping fit, or going to the gym for example. Some are addicted to TV or their XBOX’s, not the first things that pop to mind when we think or talk about addiction.

Typical reasons behind addiction though relate to a form of escapism from life, triggered by typical factors such as stress, anxiety or depression. In the case of the Indian Police, many of the officers struggling with addictions stated they felt their addiction was linked to stress, working long hours and depression.

Combating addiction

Addiction is a powerful thing, and so it takes some time to break the addiction ccycle. Often when we picture people dealing with addiction we think of circles of people talking through their problems, looking for support from others. Talking therapies are very powerful, especially when delivered in a structured format, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and with the added benefit of Hypnosis (Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy – CBH).  Both CBT and CBH are about a change in thinking and a change in behaviour.

CBH provides individuals with the tools that will help them break their addictive cycles and maintain a healthy life style.   For any therapist / counsellor, CBH is a powerful addition to any talking therapy.  For therapists wishing to learn these skills, there are a number of courses available from the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy, ranging from a foundation course in counselling, hypnosis and rapport skills, to advanced diploma courses. For individuals wishing to learn some of the skills CBH teaches, there are a number of Master Classes also available, each one focused on a particular skill, such as treating addiction, panic disorder, self esteem problems and more.

When it comes to combating addiction, CBH can be a valuable tool to your toolkit.