3 things to help you prepare for starting online CBT
You’ve realised that you can’t go on feeling this way every day. You’ve decided to take control of your mental health and signed up for online CBT. That’s great, you’ve taken the first steps towards feeling better! But how can you make sure you get the most out of your treatment?
We understand that registering for therapy can make you feel a whole range of emotions. It can feel empowering and liberating, but it can also leave you feeling a little apprehensive and sometimes even more anxious before you get started. There are a lot of unknowns. What is going to happen? What is expected of me? Will I gel with my therapist? To help you feel ready and more in control, we have put together a list of 3 things you can do to help you prepare for starting therapy.
Think about your goals
CBT is a very actionable therapy. It focuses on dealing with the here and now, equipping you with skills to manage situations and help you get back to living life the way you want to. Therefore, your therapist will want to know how you have been feeling and what it is you would like to get back to doing or feel able to start doing. Understanding this will help you set some goals for your therapy that you can work towards during your sessions.
In readiness for your first session it is a good idea to think about what sort of goals you might like to work towards. Practice setting them and take some time to think about whether there is anything else you might like to work on during your sessions.
Once you have worked out some goals, write them down somewhere that you can keep safe and refer back to. This could be in a file on your computer or even written in a small notebook. It is a really good idea to keep all information relating to your therapy sessions together in one easy to find place.
Writing down some ideas before your session can really help you feel in control of the process and reduce the chance of feeling overwhelmed during your first appointment.
Remember, you are doing great!
Start to think about your symptoms in categories
CBT is focused around how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are linked and impact on each other. To get you into a good mindset for learning more about this during your sessions, start to have a think about the way your symptoms and feelings fall into these three different categories. Try to write down some lists under the following headings:
Think about the way they make your body feel physically. Do you find you sweat more? Or perhaps feel dizzy and shaky?
Think about how the way you feel makes you act. Do you avoid certain situations? Carry out specific routines?
Think about how they make you think. Try to take note of some of the thoughts you experience when you are in a situation that triggers your symptoms.
Don’t worry if you find this difficult to start with. No one is expecting you to be an expert and that is what we are here to help you with. However, just thinking about your symptoms in this way can get you into a good frame of mind for therapy.
Make a note of things you enjoy
Have a think about your life over the last few weeks or months. What are some of the things that you have done that you have enjoyed? Try to write down a list of these things. On the opposite side, make a list of all the things that you have done that you perhaps haven’t enjoyed. This can be a really good exercise to get you thinking about how you have been spending your time and whether more of your time is taken up on things that you don’t enjoy instead of things that you do.
During your therapy sessions, your therapist will be really keen to get to know you personally, so they can work out the best solutions to get you back to doing what you want to be doing and enjoying your life again.