At Marlow Psychology, we primarily use evidence based psychological treatment approaches that are known to work, are validated by scientific research, and endorsed by the British Psychological Society.
The main approach that we use is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) which forms the basis for all of our treatment planning. However we do not advocate a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and we will therefore adapt our approach by utilising skills and integrating treatment approaches to suit your individual circumstances, your presenting problems, and your responsiveness to each session. As such we are extensively practiced in incorporating the following treatment approaches into your treatment plan:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Mindfulness based therapies
- Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)
- Motivational Interviewing
- Narrative Therapy
Regardless of the approach we use, we will always do more than just listen to your story. Together with your psychologist, you will come to a better understanding of your problem, what has contributed to the problem and what is maintaining it. We will work on practical strategies and skills so you can overcome what is troubling you, help prevent any recurrence and enhance your life.
What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?
CBT is a relatively short term, focused approach to the treatment of many types of emotional, behavioural and psychological problems. It is a collaborative and individualised program that helps individuals to identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours and learn or relearn healthier skills and habits. CBT is one of the most established of psychological therapies and has been practised widely for more than 40 years. It has been researched extensively, and has demonstrated effectiveness with a variety of emotional and psychological difficulties. It is also continually evolving, and CBT therapies such as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as supported by NICE, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and others are increasingly being used, with an increasing evidence base, for a variety of emotional, behavioural and psychological problems.
What are the benefits of CBT?
CBT is structured, goal oriented, and focuses on immediate difficulties as well as long term strategies and requires active involvement by the client. CBT is flexible, individualised, and can be adapted to a wide range of individuals and a variety of settings
For some problems, such as anxiety and depression, CBT is as effective as medication and can also enhance the effects of medication. The results of CBT are long-term, and you can apply what you have learned in therapy to help with other problems in your life.
CBT has been extensively investigated in rigorous clinical trials and has empirical support. Broadly, CBT has evidenced the following outcomes:
- CBT is compatible with a range other treatments that you might receive such as medication or supportive counselling.
- Because you are actively involved in your treatment you are more likely to remain engaged with the process.
How effective is CBT?
In a broad sense, as its name suggests, CBT involves both ‘cognitive therapy’ and ‘behaviour therapy’. Cognitive therapy focuses on an individual’s pattern of thinking, while behaviour therapy looks at associated actions. When combined skilfully, these two approaches provide a powerful method to help overcome a wide range of emotional and behavioural problems. One of the strengths of CBT is that it aims not just to help people overcome the symptoms that they are currently experiencing, but it also aims to teach the person new skills and strategies that they can apply to future problems. It focuses on the ‘here and now’ whilst developing an understanding of past styles of thinking and coping behaviours that have developed over time.
CBT examines all elements that maintain a problem, including thoughts, feelings, behaviour and the environment. It is a structured therapy, which involves a partnership between you and your therapist. You are fully involved in planning your treatment and the therapist will always let you know what is happening. Usually you will have a thorough assessment in the first session or two. Each session will involve discussion, explanation and practice of skills and techniques. Often you will be required to practice those techniques in between sessions.
ACT is an empirically-based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies integrated with commitment and behaviour-change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility (i.e. ability to respond in different ways). It helps people to be more accepting or to learn to 'be with' their difficult thoughts, memories and sensations rather than changing them. They can begin to just notice and accept their experiences, especially unwanted or distressful ones. The core ideas of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is that psychological suffering is caused at the interface between human language and the control of behaviour. People become limited by their unhelpful thoughts and habits and this can lead to the avoidance of experiences and actions that prevent them from fulfilling important life values.
ACT uses six core principles to guide psychological treatment: cognitive defusion (becoming more detached from emotional thoughts and feelings); acceptance; increasing contact with the present moment; being more aware of the self; developing personal values; and being more committed in action.
Mindfulness based therapies
Mindfulness can be used alongside CBT, and has a growing body of evidence for helping people experiencing anxiety, depression, physical pain and stress. It involves building awareness to thoughts and feelings and observing them in the present moment, without attaching judgement or meaning to them, instead cultivating acceptance and openness to experience. The main focus is on the breath, as an anchor when the mind is distracted or restless and builds on a sense of calmness and awareness.
SFBT focuses on finding solutions and is goal oriented. The emphasis is on what is possible and changeable, based on the assumption that the client wants change and has resources and strengths to solve problems. It is a short term therapy, is future oriented and consists of discussions in which the client is encouraged to find their own solutions.
Motivational Interviewing can be helpful for any area where people are finding it difficult to consider changes in their behaviour such as unhelpful habits. It is a directive approach for eliciting behaviour change by helping clients to explore and resolve their ambivalence about their life problems. The examination and resolution of ambivalence about changing behaviour is its central purpose.
Narrative therapy involves a process of deconstruction and “meaning making” achieved through questioning and collaboration with the client in an effort to externalise them from an issue. This process of externalisation allows people to position themselves differently to their problem, which improves coping.