When CBT works

You hear a lot of talk around the blogosphere about CBT and how bad it is. The Wonder Therapist is of the CBT persuasion, but I’ve never experienced any of the negative things that people talk about. There’s never been a 12-step program, or worksheets to complete, or anything like that. She’s probably more eclectic than she lets on, because I actually experience a blend of a whole lot of things in my sessions with her… though she’s definitely a rational being underneath it all.

I had my job interview today and it struck me as I parked my car that this is one of those times when CBT actually works.

I was, of course, anxious before hand, but only normally so. Besides, the half bottle of magic elixir I’d sprayed into my mouth and the “lick” of v@lium* I’d had before hand probably helped keep my anxiety to manageable levels (even if the v@lium was over 18 months out of date).

I also managed to talk myself through some of the anxiety. Like when I started panicking that I would be late, I was able to say “When have you ever been late for a job interview? Never. Ok. This will be ok too.” And it was.

I also found myself saying things like, “You’ve done this before. You can do it again. Just relax. You’ve prepared. You know your stuff.”

And, “Come on, they just want to get to know you. It isn’t a trick. Just do your thing.”

So I did. I even used the yoga-breathing technique to relax beforehand.

It was ok. I relaxed into the interview and I was able to answer all their questions, and ask some of my own. The only thing I mucked up on was learning about the organisation, so when they asked me what I know, my first thought was “Hmmm, f*** all.” Obviously I didn’t say that, I just stumbled my way through. How on earth I forgot to bone up on that is beyond all fathoming. The most basic interview question and I missed it! Oh well, too late to worry about that now. Hopefully I didn’t make too much of an a$$ of myself. Besides, it was an early question, so hopefully I recovered some ground afterwards.

I’m completely exhausted, but I’m managing to be nice to myself tonight – snuggling on the couch with my blanket and a DVD. 🙂

Even if I don’t get the job (and I hope I do) this seems like another step forward. 🙂

**

* The Wonder Therapist calls my use of 1.25mg of v@lium a “lick”… barely enough to be of any therapeutic use, but it does work, even if just placeboically, if that’s a word. LOL.

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11 thoughts on “When CBT works

  1. I think it is mostly the relationship that is important in counselling. What ‘school’ the therapists belongs to (CBT or whatever) is secondary I think.

    People dislike CBT because it can play into the idea that thoughts are better/more fundamental than feelings and so on. It also has several theoretical problems (but then most theories do).

    I know several people who have found CBT useful – mainly for panic and phobias.

    Great to hear that it is working for you. And if it doesn’t suit you for something in the future there are lots of other options to choose from.

  2. I am happy for you that the interview went well, and also happy for you that you have a therapist you find so helpful, but none of that stuff was CBT.

    I have looked into many cases of supposedly bad CBT, both on the Internet and in real life, and in almost every case the therapist was unqualified in CBT (though usually quite well qualified in something else like psychology or counselling). The exceptions were clients of a certain therapist who was becoming ill at the time, and who has since found other employment.

    By the way, dose/response curves for many psychoactive drugs are counter-intuitive, so doing what works for you is exactly the right approach.

  3. I used CBT to help with my fear of flying and it worked great! For my current issues, I find it invalidating and demeaning. I say something that I think or feel and the last thing I want to hear is that what I think or feel is wrong and I should change it. Even though that may be true.

    Sounds like the interview went well – I’m so glad for you. Particularly so soon after surgery, you did great!

  4. I agree with the others. It’s important to know that all these approaches have similarities. The key is to be internally aware and know what you are doing and why you are doing it. I like the term mindful.

  5. The reality testing and breathing techniques could be part of CBT, but other types of therapists certainly use them. I think practical strategies like that are really helpful. I think like anything, if the therapist genuinely cares about their client, and uses what techniques are practical for that person, it’s going to work. I’ve heard more good than bad about CBT, but I think that if a therapist is using it as a bandaid, without building a genuine supportive relationship, it’s going to feel artificial and controlling, just like people who prescribe medication in an impersonal, judgmental context.

  6. I’m glad the interview went well and you took care of yourself afterwards…
    Irrespective of the therapeutic approach, if it works for you over time, then it’s good.

    Take care,
    CG

  7. @ Evan – Thanks for dropping by. As I said, my therapist is more of a blended approach, I think, though the cognitive does shine through sometimes. Whatever she’s doing works for me.

    @ cbtish – Thanks for the comment. I have to disagree with you – this is CBT in the way my therapist describes it and she’s been doing this for 20+ years. It’s also consistent with the material in the CBT book she recommended to me. Perhaps there are subtle differences in the way these things are described and practised around the globe?

    @ Harriet – I’m really glad you found CBT helpful for your fear of flying. I agree that it’s not helpful, and potentially destructive, for deeper issues. My therapist is very clear that whatever I’m thinking and feeling is valid, even if it might be a misperception of a situation. I guess she’s been doing this long enough to know when to call on her CBT business and when not to. Doing the interview so soon after surgery was tough, it’s left me in a bit of a slump, but I’ll get through.

    @ Sanity – so nice to see you! Thanks 🙂

    @ Paul – I like the term “mindful” too, though I hadn’t previously thought of this as mindfulness. You’ve got me thinking…

    @ SWD – Agreed. I certainly need some of the practical stuff out of therapy, but I also need the other things, and the genuine supportive relationship. Thankfully that’s what I get. 🙂

    @ Castorgirl – thanks. Interesting that you’re the only one to pick up on the care taking afterwards. I was pretty proud of myself for that. 🙂

  8. It’s like the things you were saying came from your therapist. Do you hear her voice when you say them? I still often imagine that friendly voice in my head, and it’s like a soothing influence. I’m never sure if it’s what I am saying, or how I am saying it. As if I am carrying a friend in my head, and it almost becomes impossible to be anxious. I am so glad you’re feeling strong Kerro, because you really are.

    Lola x

  9. I went to a training on CBT, and I have to say that I am definitely a CBTer at heart. One only needs to read my blog briefly to figure that out. However, I am in to other things very NON-CBT like art and music and sandtray, bibliotherapy, psychodrama, etc. I think CBT gets a bad rap when it is strictly adhered to as the end all be all mode of therapy. Good therapists are like good teachers. They empower themselves with many tools, many modalities so that they can be flexible to client need, interest, and response.
    Lothlorien

  10. @ Lola – funnily enough, yes I do hear my therapist’s voice and see her face in my mind’s eye. Actually I see the whole of her, the way we usually sit in her office. She is like a little friend in my head – I remember one time saying to her that I wished she’d follow me around and see how pathetic I am in real life. And she said, “oh, but I do follow you around!” meaning in my head. LOL The weirdness of therapy, eh?

    @ Lothlorien – You are absolutely 100% correct: “Good therapists are like good teachers. They empower themselves with many tools, many modalities so that they can be flexible to client need, interest, and response.” Thanks. 🙂

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