As I wrote about last time, my self-directed workbook on CBT for anxiety and depression was released on Oct. 18, 2016 (available here). My goal in writing the book is to make the tools of CBT available to as many people as possible, and I want each person who follows the plan spelled out in the book to get the most out of it.
There are plenty of studies showing that self-help approaches for anxiety and depression can be effective. At the same time, as I note in the book and elsewhere, CBT tends to be most effective when done with a therapist.
[Therapy Without a Therapist? on Psychology Today Blog]
To my knowledge, we don’t know for certain what a therapist adds to the treatment above and beyond the information that a book could provide. I have my suspicions, though, and I’m pretty sure they won’t surprise you.
- First, a good therapist provides a place where you can feel comfortable and accepted. You tell another person what’s bothering you and that person takes you seriously. No, you’re not making this up and no, you’re not “crazy.” And so you feel understood and validated, and maybe you don’t feel so alone. There’s plenty of evidence that a better quality of relationship with our therapist leads to better outcomes.
- A therapist also provides some accountability. You know that every week you’ll have a meeting and you’ll discuss the things you planned to work on between sessions. You might be less inclined to skip the things you planned knowing you’ll have to “face your therapist.” Additionally, therapy isn’t free, and we tend to follow through with activities more when we’ve paid for them (like gym memberships).
- A therapist can help troubleshoot difficulties. Making important changes in our thoughts and behaviors is difficult, and everyone will run into challenges along the way. For example, what do we do when we can’t think of an alternative to an especially upsetting belief about ourselves? It helps to collaborate with an experienced guide, probably someone who’s treated people with similar struggles and can help you find creative solutions.
I can’t replicate all of these factors as you’re using CBT in 7 Weeks, although I tried to build these ideas into the text as much as I could. What I would like to add is an additional sense of support and even community. My plan is to use this blog to provide extra material to support you in the work for each week.
I’d also like the comments section of this blog to be a place where you can share your struggles and your successes each week, if you choose. This way you’ll know that many people are working alongside you. I may not be able to respond to all questions and comments but look forward to being a part of the discussion.
The schedule will be as follows; all dates are Mondays:
- October 31: Week 1, Setting Your Goals and Getting Started
- November 7: Week 2, Getting Back to Life
- November 14: Week 3, Identifying Your Thought Patterns
- November 21: Week 4, Breaking Negative Thought Patterns
- November 28: Week 5, Time and Task Management
- December 5: Week 6, Facing Your Fears
- December 12: Week 7, Putting It All Together
- December 19: The Next Seven Weeks
I realize this schedule overlaps with the Thanksgiving holiday and others but I wanted to make this resource available before the new year for those who plan to start soon. If the timing doesn’t work for you, I plan to do something similar starting in the first week of 2017.
For those of you starting this journey, I wish you the best and look forward to hearing from you!