If you suffer from depression or anxiety, you have likely been told about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. It is a great tool to help you change your thinking and be more able to cope. However, even with my husbands benefits, there is no way I could afford it as an ongoing treatment. That is the problem for a lot of people that suffer from mental illness. Help is too pricey.
My doctor was able to refer me to a therapist at a hospital here in Toronto for the possibility of receiving free CBT therapy. I waited about a month to hear from them, and was brought in for an assessment in July last year(2015). I was told that private CBT would be the best fit for me, but the hospital was only offering group CBT sessions. I was put on a waiting list, and began my 12 week group sessions in Januray 2016.
This CBT group was for anxiety, however, the concepts can be used for depression as well. I could have gotten into a group for depression, but at the time it was my anxiety that was affecting my life the most.
Despite the fact that I would be better off with private sessions, and that is something I want to look into eventually, I found the group very helpful. There was something about hearing other people’s struggles that made me realize I was not as “crazy” as I thought.
As the sessions went on, I became more comfortable speaking to everyone else in the room about my issues. I also found myself offering advice to some of the others. You know how they say the best way to learn something is to teach it? That is so true. I found myself giving advice to another person that I then realized I should use too.With all of us having different things that cause anxiety, we were able to give logical advice about something we weren’t anxious about.
I was the only one who had specific phobias about medical stuff, and general anxiety about fainting whenever I feel overwhelmed. Most of the people in the group had anxieties around social situations, being the center of attention, being judged or making decisions. I have some anxiety with these things, but they weren’t why I needed help. Some had specific anxieties that I would think “why would they be anxious about that?” And I’m sure a lot of them thought the same thing about my anxieties. But it didn’t matter. We were all there for essentially the same thing, and we wanted to support each other.
I definitely recommend that if you are thinking about doing CBT, you should do it! Find a way, either join a group, read CBT books, or find a program online. Do a mixture. And don’t rule out the idea of going on medication. They say that medication along with CBT is the most effective way. But talk to your doctor and do what is best for you.
A book series I recommend is by Jessamy Hibberd and Jo Usmar. They have books titled “This book Will Make you Calm” and “This Book Will Make you Happy” Along with others for confidence, sleeping, and mindfulness. They use CBT techniques and even have homework for you to do. They are easy to read, and not very long, which is perfect if you’re not much of a reader.
On top of that, I would love to offer you my own CBT lessons. I am going to post lessons that go along with what I did during my CBT program at the hospital, and even give you homework! This will be a great way for me to refresh my CBT knowledge and make sure I put it to practice on a regular basis again. I hope that anyone thinking about it will find value in my posts, and they can at least help you get through until you’re able to receive some professional help.
Keep checking back, I will be posting Lesson #1 soon!