Tag Archives: CBT

Low Self Esteem, Self Acceptance and REBT

6 Jan

According to Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), one of the main schools of cognitive behaviour therapy offering a humanistic and philosophic model, low self-esteem occurs when a person makes a demand on himself or herself, others or the world that is not met and then self-depreciates in some way.

The following are examples of themes that are commonly involved in low self-esteem. These themes are inferential in nature and people react to them as if they are true, whether they are or not.

* Failing to achieve an important target or goal.

* Acting incompetently (in public or private).

* Falling short of one’s ideal.

* Failing to live up to one’s standards.

* Breaking one’s ethical code.

* Being criticised.

* Being ridiculed.

* Not being accepted, approved, appreciated or loved by significant others.

 

According to REBT theory, people do not disturb themselves about events because of the assumptions they make about these events; rather they disturb themselves because they hold irrational or unhealthy beliefs about these events. When low self-esteem predominates in people’s problems, their unhealthy or irrational beliefs largely take the form of rigid demands and self-depreciation beliefs. Albert Ellis has argued that self-depreciation beliefs are derived from rigid demands. Rigid demands are essentially non acceptance beliefs.

 

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There are four types of unhealthy or irrational beliefs that disturb you and four corresponding health beliefs that can help you become rational in the face of life’s adversities.

Those beliefs are:

Demands

A demand is the rigid expression of a desire for something and takes the form of an absolute such as ‘must,’ ‘I have to’, ‘I absolutely should’ e.g. ‘I must not fail’.

Awfulising

‘Awfulising’ is an unrealistic rating of how bad it is that your demand has or has not been met. The badness of the situation is rated at 100% or more bad. You believe that it is the worst thing that you can ever experience. e.g. ‘it’s awful that I failed’.

Low Frustration Tolerance

Also known as LFT, this is an irrational rating of your ability to handle or cope with difficulty or frustration e.g. ‘I cannot tolerate failure’.

Self/Other/World Damning

This is a global negative rating of the self, other people and, even, the world around you. The self/other or the world is rated as ‘totally bad’, ‘total failure’ and so on e.g. ‘I am a failure or worthless because I failed’.

Each unhealthy belief will have a corresponding healthy alternative.

According to REBT theory, self acceptance or unconditional self-acceptance is the healthy alternative to self-depreciation or low self-esteem. Unconditional self-acceptance is found when people hold healthy beliefs. These are desires about the way they want themselves, others and the world to be, but which are not then transformed into rigid demands.

At The College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies we specialise in accredited courses in REBT. To learn more please see more information on our website http://www.cbttherapies.org.uk

Stoicism and REBT, the philosophic CBT model

19 Nov

The austere times we are now living through may go some way towards explaining the revival of Stoic philosophy with its emphasis on self-control and self-determination. There have been a number of books and articles published in recent times citing the Stoic approach to living and in particular its influence on CBT. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) is one of the main schools of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). It was developed by Albert Ellis, one of the most respected psychologists of our time.

 

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Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason. For the Stoics, ‘reason’ meant not only using logic, but also understanding the processes of nature. Living according to reason and virtue, they held, is to live in harmony with the divine order of the universe, in recognition of the common reason and essential value of all people.

 

Stoicism had a profound influence on Albert Ellis. Ellis frequently referred to the famous Epictetus quote:

“Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.”

The Stoic principles of reason and logic are a cornerstone of his therapeutic approach, and by using them we can discover and dispute the irrational beliefs that create our faulty thinking, symptoms and behaviours. Ellis’s A-B-C model puts this process into action, where A is the ‘activating event’, which links to C (the ‘consequences’ – emotional, behavioural, symptomatic), via B which is the belief which has been ‘triggered’ by A.

 

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Along with the Stoics, Ellis held that we can choose how we view the events in our lives, and the choices we make will determine whether or not we become disturbed by them. Common themes between the two are also seen in the ideas of tolerating discomfort while acting in accordance with one’s (healthy) beliefs. Ellis often used humour as a very effective way to help people realise the extent of their illogical thinking. A favourite tactic was blowing up someone’s anxiety to comical proportions so they could see the absurdity of their faulty thinking.

 

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At the CCBT we hold fast to these ideas as REBT underpins our training and workshops. REBT is the humanistic and existential school of CBT. It provides a universal approach to psychological health based on changing dogmatic beliefs into their healthy versions.

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.

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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.

 

 

  

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.

CBT and long-term health conditions

19 Mar

Although Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be an effective way of treating a number of different mental health conditions, another important way CBT can be used is to treat people with long-term health conditions, such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Although these are physical complaints and CBT cannot cure them, it can be very successful with helping people cope with their symptoms. As CBT is a practical therapy, it can focus on particular specific problems. These strategies can then be used for a lifetime. CBT can also be used alongside medication if the condition is severe. If used with hypnosis i.e. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), for some people, the combination can also be extremely effective.

It is well established that hypnosis, for IBS, is an effective treatment.

Any harmful, unhelpful thoughts which may trigger health problems, or make them worse are identified. The aim is then to change the ways of thinking to avoid these ideas. A certain amount of dedication and persistence by the individual is required to achieve optimum results.

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In the case of IBS, CBT and CBH usually involve teaching the individual specific strategies for calming the body and reducing their anxiety. They learn to cope with the unpleasant symptoms of IBS and to be able to face the difficult situations in life that can cause stress and trigger an attack of IBS. This can involve people monitoring which foods impacts negatively on their condition. They would note how they felt while eating, anxious, happy, relaxed, stressed etc to see if they can see a pattern emerging.

CBT combined with medical treatment has been shown to be more effective than medical treatment alone in reducing IBS symptoms.

CBT has also been shown to significantly improve sleep and reduce pain in arthritis sufferers.

People learn how to control their pain. This can be through diverting their attention and practicing relaxation techniques. The reduction in pain enables them to enjoy a more active lifestyle and this improvement in their quality of life can be maintained. They also find after their course of CBT they are less depressed and have more energy.

A big responsibility is for the client to carry out the work required themself. Literature such as our book ‘Visual CBT’, written by the founders of the College, can be very helpful, as it has been designed to help anybody apply Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to change their life, in a very visual way, using imagery and illustrations. This visual approach makes the CBT very clear and easy to follow.