Tag Archives: depression

Grief and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

7 Oct

Grief is an intense and complex emotion. It is the natural and appropriate response to the loss of someone or something significant to your life. When it is the loss of a parent, spouse, sibling or child it can be very difficult to bear. When the death is sudden and unexpected the emotional response can be considered traumatic.

 

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Most people are familiar with Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief, developed when she was working with the terminally ill, and mistakenly apply it to the experience of coping with bereavement. In fact Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ book is called “On death and dying” and the stages she talks about come from the conversations she had with people who were dying rather than the bereaved. She identified the stages as a way of helping people come to terms with their own death.

Applying these stages to bereavement suggests that grief is a liner process and that there is an end. That people will “get over it”.

It is simply not helpful, and it doesn’t happen. What does happen is that in time the bereaved learn to live with their loss

There is no process to grief, it is not linear and there is no time limit on it.

 

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Every day can be a struggle, and the triggers to the emotion of grief are numerous. This is extremely hard to deal with for both the bereaved and the people around them. Albert Ellis, the grandfather of CBT and the founder of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) which is a philosophical model of CBT, has stated life is not easy, it is not fair and bad things happen to good people, and we always have a choice about how we respond to events.

We can demand that the death should not have happened, that the loss is off the scale bad, and that it is unbearable, all of which are normal and natural responses in the immediate aftermath. However, staying in the grip of that irrational belief, no matter how understandable, is unhealthy and unhelpful. It maintains the intensity of the grief at a level which renders the bereaved person unable to function, to eat, to sleep and to look after others in their care. Such a belief maintains the denial of an extremely difficult reality.

The reality of grief is stark, it is painful, uncomfortable and untidy, and it is individual. In the early stages of grief there is no “normal”

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However, accepting that is difficult to accept reality is an important step in getting on with living and is part of grieving. Accepting the reality that this tragic event has happened without demanding that it shouldn’t have will change the present reality. Acknowledging the truth that the death of a loved one is as bad as it gets, and that whilst the world as previously known may have been forever altered, the world has not ended and life does go on. And to fully acknowledge that although it may ‘feel’ unbearable at times it is bearable and as tough as it is to get through each day it is possible to take one step at a time and get through.

This is the attitude that can allow the bereaved to grieve appropriately and healthily, without denial. It is difficult to understand how and why, particularly in sudden or unexpected death. Demanding that it shouldn’t have happened leads to a much greater pain for the bereaved than accepting that it has happened.

REBT is humanistic and existential model of CBT. It is concerned with the person as a whole and the experiences that exist for all of us including suffering. It teaches us how to respond to suffering and adversities in a healthy way.

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?

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

Developing Compassion

4 Feb

One of the most intrusive and problematic features of experiencing depression and anxiety is that when we suffer these unhealthy emotions we tend to develop low self-esteem, and to put ourselves down in more generalized ways.
‘I’m a complete loser’, ‘I’m a failure’ or just simply, ‘I’m no good’.

These thinking patterns become repetitive and increasingly destructive as we use this kind of self-talk to ‘beat ourselves up’ and to literally bully ourselves. Often the things we say to ourselves are overly harsh and critical, and when spoken out loud sound vindictive and mean-spirited.

If you imagine saying these things to another person, you can hear how vicious is their intent and meaning. If you were to say these things to another person in the work place you would rightly be accused of bullying and victimization.

Yet, in the midst of depression or a severely anxious state, when we say these things to ourselves, silently or even out loud, we don’t seem to develop and awareness of, or recognize any kind of double-standard at work.

Over recent years much research has been carried out into the subject of compassion. When we think of compassion we usually think of an attitude, which we adopt in relation to another person. We associate caring, kindness, understanding and tolerance, with compassion. Science, as well as spiritual teaching, and even religious doctrine, has long understood the value of extending compassion to others.

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Down through the millennia ‘the golden rule’, “treat others as you would be treated yourself” has been a by-word for compassion. However, in recent years the research has focused more on ‘self-compassion’ and it has been observed that the brains of those who focus on developing self-compassion experience a measurable change in neural activity and connectivity within the brain.

In short, the brain functions better, in terms of general goal-pursuit, and individuals increase their experience of emotional wellbeing, and generalized mental health. In other words, if we can learn techniques, which accentuate and increase ability in extending self-compassion, kindness, and understanding to ourselves, a measurable improvement in mental and emotional functioning results. This has to be worthy of our interest.

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), developed and refined by Paul Gilbert (The Compassionate Mind, 2009), has enjoyed a great focus of interest in recent years, and has been researched by neurological and psychotherapeutic scientific outcome studies, in an attempt to measure improvement in a variety of areas, and the results are very encouraging.

If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, look out for a forthcoming Master Class designed for both therapists who work in any therapeutic tradition and wish to extend their skill set in their work with clients, or for those who might be interested in the subject from a self-development perspective at http://www.cbttherapies.org.uk

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

Shame and Regret

26 Nov

The final negative emotion in our series of negative healthy and unhealthy emotions is shame or embarrassment and its healthy counterpart regret.  Shame is generally provoked by holding unhealthy beliefs or attitudes (demands) about something shameful being revealed about you or a group you identify yourself with by either yourself or another and other people disapproving or shunning you as a consequence of that exposure.  We often experience these feeling of shame or embarrassment when we link our sense of worth to other people’s negative judgement.

It can be experienced by a person, even when it’s not about that individual but the group the individual identifies themselves with.  This can lead to a person who has acted shamefully being blamed for bringing shame on the group.  It is not the person who has committed the ‘shameful’ act but the unhealthy beliefs others hold about it and about that individual that provoked the feelings of shame and then possibly anger too.

Regret, the healthy negative emotional counterpart of shame is experienced when healthy beliefs are held about being disapproved of by others for having made some socially unacceptable behavior and consequentially being negatively judged or rejected.  Recognising our individual worth is not reliant on other peoples negative or positive judgment is the first step to solving shame problems followed by our acceptance of ourselves and our human fallibility.

Shame and guilt are often misinterpreted or thought of as being the same.  Shame emotions are provoked by beliefs about other people’s disapproval, guilt on the other hand is provoked by beliefs is one’s own disapproval of yourself due to breaking one’s own moral rule.

How do you know if you have shame or regret?

Feeling shame about having emotional problems is, unfortunately, very common.  Often when we are depressed we may hold a belief that “ I
shouldn’t be feeling depressed
” or reveal to others that I am feeling depressed, for example “If others know I am feeling depressed, they will judge me weak and I agree with them as depression is a sign of weakness”

When you experience shame or embarrassment you over exaggerate in your minds the shamefulness of what has been revealed and what other’s will now think of you.  You imagine the others thinking you are “awful” or deficient or lacking now they know this about you or even your family or the group on culture you belong to.   You also think that they are really focused on the shameful deed you have committed or you are associated with.  You will think that everyone is judging you negatively and want to expel you from their lives!

Regret on the other is felt when you hold healthy beliefs about other people’s disapproval, accepting yourself and thinking with compassion about your behaviour. You recognise the level of interest and disapproval other people may take in your behaviour and how long that disapproval may last.

When you experience shame you have a tendency to want to remove yourself from other people and isolate yourself from social interactions even when asked to become involved.  Sometimes when we are ashamed we attack the people who have shamed us to protect ourselves from feeling that shame. At other times we may try and over-compensate our feelings of low self esteem in self defeating ways, by for example, doing too much for other people and exhausting ourselves in the process.

On the other hand when we hold healthy beliefs about ourselves and actions and the opinions of others we tend not to act in this way, able to get on with our activities and interactions without isolating, attacking or overcompensating in any way.

When we experience feelings of regret we are able to accept ourselves and are able to re-engage social interactions with those who were disapproving whereas when we are stuck with feelings of shame we tend to ignore those attempts by others to restore social equilibrium and remain aloof.

Tips

  • Remember none of us are infallible we all have done things that we regret.
  • None of us are perfect because we make judgements about one another even though it is not in our best interests to do so.
  • Accept negative judgement exists but work on accepting yourself regardless of that.

Emotion Blog Series #2: Depression and Sadness

5 Jul

Depression is the second emotion we are looking at in our series on Emotions, there are eight altogether along with their “healthy counterparts” that are identified in the Ellis Model of RECBT.

Depression: An unhealthy negative emotion

Depression (an unhealthy negative emotion) is mostly provoked by holding unhealthy beliefs or attitudes (Demands) about loss or failure.

Its healthy counterpart is Sadness and occurs when we hold a healthy belief or attitude about loss or failure.

Depression is an unhealthy negative emotion and we can be depressed about many things.  Some examples are:

 

  • Loss or failure of job
  • Loss or failure of relationship
  • Death
  • Loss of freedom
  • Loss of control
  • Failure of success

               

How do you know if you are depressed or sad?

Depression is experienced by many people in a life time usually in reaction to external circumstances and it has a distinctive thought and behaviour pattern that we can identify.   When you feel depressed your thoughts become preoccupied with negative experiences and are unable to find the good or positive about anything in life. Thoughts have a historical focus with a tendency to remember old past losses or failures and rumination becomes more and more part of your thought processes.  If you are experiencing Depression you tend think you are a failure as a person and that in the future there is no hope so a pervading sense of helplessness and hopelessness is experienced. 

When you are depressed you feel like avoiding the world and the people in it, withdrawing into your head rather than going out; you pull away from people and life in general.   You may not feel like getting out of bed or going to work or meeting your friends.  Looking after yourself or your surroundings becomes unimportant.  When you are feeling depressed you are not interested in looking after yourself and, in severe depression, not bothering to wash or get dressed. You don’t feel like washing up or hoovering, tidying may become a thing of the past.   

When you are depressed you have a tendency to behave in destructive ways to try and avoid the feeling of depression.  It can lead to over eating or under eating, using alcohol or drugs to excess to avoid those feelings.

The thoughts experienced when feeing sadness, in contrast to depression, are more balanced.  You are able to think about both positive and negative aspects of the loss or failure. When you are experiencing sadness your thoughts do not remain focused in the past and previous failures instead you think that you will be able to deal with the current loss appropriately.  The thoughts of helplessness and beliefs that you are failure are not present in sadness.  Your thoughts are helpful and hopeful.

When you are sad you will tend to share your feelings and express what is happening to those around you.  You remain able to look after yourself and your environment recognising you have experienced a loss or failure and take constructive and helpful actions to support yourself through the experience.

If you recognise the thoughts and behavioural patterns of depression consider the changes that would support experiencing healthy sadness and begin to think and act in accordance with them. For example, if you are thinking everything is hopeless, recognise you are thinking this and you can begin to challenge that thought as you check reality and begin to recognise not everything is hopeless and continue to challenge your thoughts consistently, even if you don’t feel like it.  If getting out of bed and getting out of the house is your problem set yourself small achievable goals, like getting out of bed and taking a shower, eat something healthy, and do them consistently.

It will feel uncomfortable to start with but each day it gets easier, just as the same as when you learnt how to ride a bicycle, tie your shoes or make eggs for the first time.

Tips

1)      Make some goals

2)      Identify and take some immediate action to make your goals happen.

3)      Identify the regular actions to make the goals happen and do them.

4)      Stop telling yourself you are “Rubbish or the world is”

5)       Remember “you matter” and you are part of the human race which is fallible and chemically amazing at the same time.

6)      We generally think ourselves into misery, begin to change the way you think – unhealthy thoughts are normally rigid/illogical/inconsistent with reality and unhelpful healthy thoughts are – flexible, logical, consistent with reality and helpful

7)      Seek help if you continue to feel miserable.