Interview with CBT Therapist Amanda Perl
This guest post was written by the lovely Amanda Perl: She is a BACP Accredited Integrative Counsellor and Existential Psychotherapist, CBT Practitioner, Member of the British Psychological Society and Course Lead Stage 4 BACP Accredited Counselling Diploma. Her Private Practice reflects the belief that each of us is unique with potential for growth and development and can move forwards in our own way.
Q. Can you describe what CBT is?
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be broadly defined as a psychological intervention that challenges our belief system viewed as responsible for governing our emotions. CBT focuses on identifying the links between our thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours.
Q. What issues can CBT be helpful for?
CBT can be helpful for a wide range of problems. It is particularly beneficial for those amongst us struggling with obsessive and irrational thoughts, perfectionism, stress, anxiety and depression. Practiced by a psychotherapist experienced in working with trauma, CBT can help individuals recover from the debilitation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (“OCD”) Panic Attacks and Phobias in addition to less clinically diagnosed problems such as work-related stress
Q. There is a misconception surrounding therapy where you lie on the couch and talk away, what can people really expect from CBT?
“Lying on the coach” is still practiced by some Psychoanalysts, where the individual [known as the Analysand] speaks freely about their issues relating to their past with the aim of making sense of how it affects the present and the Analyst provides helpful comment to assist this process. CBT provides a much more collaborative approach with the therapist that focuses on the here and now presenting problems and leads to a shared view of what work you can do together. This “guided discovery” involves learning techniques and skills and harnessing your own resources, empowering you to experiment by creating your own strategies to deal with life’s journey.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who is worried about having CBT?
Regardless of intervention, it is your motivation to change and the relationship with your therapist that is key to healing. Building a strong therapeutic alliance with your therapist and setting clear goals about what you wish to change will ensure that you get the most out of therapy
Q. What positives have clients said about CBT?
Clients talk about the relief that freedom from their “automatic thoughts” provides by learning how to find alternatives and think in a more balanced manner as CBT attacks the belief system, not the behaviour itself, which is how new meaning is made that leads to their new positive state of mind. Experienced CBT Practitioners leave the client with a feeling of strength and courage as the client has done the work, not had the work “done to them”. Such renewed mindset brings energy, joy, positivity and a sense of well-being that no matter what, clients now have a psychological toolkit to access in times of trauma. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” by Marcel Proust sums up the CBT therapeutic journey
Q. Would you say there is a benefit for the client having private treatment vs the NHS?
The benefits lie in being able to choose a therapist with whom you may form a deeper, closer, more personal relationship as they are a better fit with you. It is not to say you may not find such a therapist within the NHS, however, the clinical environment alongside no ability to choose a therapist, is one of the challenges of using the NHS. Choosing a therapist who has experience in a particular area that matches your own struggles is another benefit for seeking private therapy. Additionally your mental health may atrophy further as you enter the NHS system and join lengthy waiting lists. However, these do vary by location although clients are prioritised according to risk. This means, for example, that although you may be facing losing your job as you find the thought of the train journey too anxiety-provoking, a client with suicidal ideation will be placed in front of you increasing your waiting time. In order to help combat waiting lists, the NHS may offer impersonal Seminars, group therapy or a purely homework and evidence-based led CBT intervention that can reinforce a client’s feelings of distress. Number of sessions are another factor to consider. A private therapist will have the option of reviewing together regularly where you are and when to end the therapy. The NHS is more time-limited, with brief therapy between 6-12 sessions being the norm.
Q. What problems does your profession face due to the mental health funding shortage?
Private therapists tend to work more with the client’s wishes as they are not being driven by funding requirements. Funding shortages mean that mental health services are often driven by what are called “Treatment Outcomes” so the focus is on evidence-based results, rather than on the quality of the “throughput”, i.e., the therapy itself. If therapy is all about relationships, and funding only allows 6 sessions when a therapeutic relationship is only just beginning, then ask yourself this question, is this really enough for a client to sustain robust mental health?
Q. If someone needed help how do you think they should go about getting treatment?
Asides from making a GP appointment, an ideal place to start is by looking on a Directory such as Counselling Directory, the BACP or UKCP websites and checking that the therapist has experience and qualifications in CBT