Why am I so uncomfortable with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
(CBT)? This is a good question, and one that I’m required to answer,
and, therefore, think about, more frequently of late. So, let me first
make it very clear that CBT is not a discipline that suits me or a
technique that I use.
This does not mean that I would, in any way, criticise those counsellors
who use it, nor discourage clients who think they can benefit from it.
I do not disparage CBT in any way. It is simply not for me – it’s not what I do.
The difficulties I have with CBT, in relation to my practice, is that I
believe I can be most effective by assisting people to explore their
feelings, in addition to their thoughts and ideas.
In my professional experience, working only on thought-patterns fails
to reach the essential truths and motivations that lead to positive
change in any meaningful way. By meaningful, I mean progress to
a long-lasting resolution. Helping somebody to examine, consider and
change their thought-patterns only, may, I suppose, be helpful in
certain cases. But, in my view, such cases, if they exist, are far more
limited than current trends suggest.
Certainly, I can understand how CBT has become the therapy-of-
choice as far as the NHS is concerned; it provides a contained, time-
limited and, arguably, measurable service which, the theory goes,
makes it a cost-effective one.
However, whether its effects are measured in real terms – how
long it takes for the client to need something further, or for a ‘different’
presenting problem to materialise - remains unanswered, in my view.
By contrast, I firmly believe, and have experienced, both personally
and professionally, the long-term benefits of Transactional Analysis
(TA). Which is why I think TA is CBT - with feeling. But that’s another
story: another blog, for another day.