We hope these client case studies will provide an insight into therapy and how it works. Although they have been written by us, they are based on real work with clients, although we have mixed things up a little and changed names so nobody can be identified.
How CBT helped Helen – a client case study
I had always been a slightly anxious child but this anxiety had intensified with age. When it got to the point where I was so worried about what people thought of me I was afraid to leave the house, I realised I needed to do something about it.
I had an initial session with Alison, a cognitive-behaviour therapist (CBT therapist), in which we discussed what cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) would entail. Alison explained that together we would look at my worries, their causes and my core belief of 'not being good enough' which may have stemmed from my overly critical parents.
From understanding the premise of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), I was better able to understand my way of thinking which was creating and maintaining my problems. Alison taught me some helpful relaxation techniques to make me feel less anxious and ways to modify my negative patterns of thinking. It was difficult at first and took a bit of effort on my part but I soon understood why I felt the way I did and was able to use these techniques alone which made me feel better about myself.
Although coming to cognitive-behavour therapy (CBT) was initially quite daunting, I found it a positive and helpful experience. Alison gave me the opportunity to talk about my problems in a friendly and understanding environment, which I had never done before, and never made me feel rushed. Once I started to notice myself accomplishing the goals we had set, I became much more comfortable in therapy and it just got easier and easier.
How counselling helped Robert
I never really felt I fitted in, ever since my school days when I was bullied for being 'different'. I thought I'd put this experience behind me and was getting on with my life but the breakdown of relationships both at home and at work brought these feelings of inferiority flooding back. It was at this point that I realised I needed someone to talk to about my problems.
I organised an initial session with Andrew, who was a counselling psychologist. At first, it was difficult to open up to a complete stranger about how I felt but Andrew listened in a non-judgemental way, which soon put me at ease. It was, in fact, a relief to talk to someone not directly involved in my relationships. Andrew drew attention to things I mentioned which gave me food for thought and pointed out the way previous experiences could impact on my life now.
As the sessions progressed, it became easier to talk about my past and we also focused on the unhelpful ways I tried to cope such as withdrawing from people and overeating. By talking things through, I came to understand the reasons why I behaved and felt the way I did which helped me to change.
I realised my feelings of rejection from school had been transferred into adulthood. I now understand that if people disagree with my point of view or I look different to them it doesn't necessarily mean they dislike or reject me. As a result, my self-esteem is a lot healthier as I try not to withdraw from people or comfort eat to make myself feel better when conflict arises. I still have the odd bad day but I feel a lot better about myself and a lot more confident in my ability to be better able to manage my relationships in the future.
If, like Robert, you need to talk to someone about difficulties you are currently experiencing or something that has happened in the past, please contact us.
How counselling and relationship/couples counselling helped Joanne and Paul with their relationship difficulties
We decided we needed to see a counsellor when all we ever did was argue. It was horrible and we both just wanted to find a way of stopping what seemed to be these never ending arguments – often about nothing at all.
We saw Susan, who specialised in relationship/couples counselling. Initially we focused on the ‘pattern’ we were in, helping us identify what it was we thought the other was doing that made us feel so provoked. She also gave each of us time and space in turn to talk about how we felt without interruption.
This was really important for us as in doing so it became really clear neither of us realised how much the other was struggling. Me because I was having a hard time at work and Paul because he just couldn’t seem to cope with his fears around our relationship not working out. Susan suggested he might need to see someone himself for some counselling to talk about things, which he did. We also continued to work on what was happening between us.
Both really helped – Paul managed to understand what was making him so scared and we realised we both had a habit of ‘testing’ each other, which was causing us to get into so many battles. Over time things improved as we learned to communicate more openly and to de-escalate conflict situations (i.e. we now have time outs!). I am pleased to say we are still together two years on – something that seemed impossible to envisage at the time.
If, like Joanne and Paul, you are having relationship problems and feel it would help to speak to somebody qualified to help, please contact us.