A DIY Guide to CBT at Home for Depression & Anxiety



Depression and anxiety are the most commonly diagnosed mental health issues in Britain today. But in a world where everything is either behind the screen, done from home, or available at zero-cost, where does this leave you with therapy for your depression and anxiety? What if you can’t find a suitable therapist? This is where we come iFn – find out more with this DIY guide to CBT at home.

What Is CBT?

CBT can be defined as a category of psychotherapeutic treatment, which enables people to learn ways on how to change destructive and identify or distribution of pattern thoughts that possess undesirable effects on emotions and behaviour. [1]

The therapy deals with alternating thoughts that are automatically negative and can result in worsening anxiety, depression, and difficulties emotionally. These negative thoughts as well have a spontaneous detrimental effect on mood.

Through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, these thoughts can be challenged, identified, and alternated with more realistic thoughts and objectives.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is primarily more than just thought pattern identification; it as well concentrates on different types of strategies that are utilized to enable people to overcome negative thoughts. An example of these strategies is role-playing, journaling, mental distractions, and relaxation techniques. [2]

What Types of Issues Can CBT At Home Help With?

The therapy can be used effectively as a short-term treatment focused on aiding people with a very particular issue. It works by educating them to concentrate on present beliefs and thoughts. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is employed in treating different conditions like;

1. Drug and Alcohol Dependency

In drug and alcohol dependence treatment, the objective of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is to:

• Educate people on how to recognize situations that make them use these substances

• Possible ways to avoid these circumstances

• And way to cope with other behaviours and issues, which may result in abusing these substances

The CBT uses two significant components to deal with drug and alcohol-dependent individuals. The two main components are skills training and functional analysis.

2. Anxiety

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a conventional treatment for social anxiety disorder. This form of therapy became famous back in the 1980s, 90s from research evidence. Clinical anxiety disorders can be overcome through CBT by breaking down fears into five categories:

  • Thoughts
  • Situations
  • Physical sensations
  • Emotions
  • Behaviours [3]

CBT works for anxiety as it breaks down negative thought patterns that make us feel anxious, paranoid or scared. It is based on acting in the moment with present feelings, as opposed to trying to resolve old issues.

The treatment is all about the combination of different techniques, and it depends on the type of anxiety being treated. For instance, CBT for depression treatment is different from that of SAD treatment or even other anxiety.

Among the primary goals of CBT is the identification of thought patterns and irrational beliefs, and they are replaced with more realistic views. The therapy process requires one to work in various areas like:

• Your self-worth and abilities of perception

• Embarrassment, guilt, or past situation anger

• Tackling social anxiety and procrastination [4]

• Dealing with perfectionism

3. Phobias

The treatment for phobia is not a necessity unless it is hindering you from performing your daily tasks, working, or even relationship with other people. For instance, if you live in the UK and you have a phobia for tigers, you are advised to avoid the zoo rather than to spend a lot on phobia treatment.

Those who have phobias have a belief that the situation they fear is dangerous. As a result, this produces negative thoughts automatically immediately. They encounter the situation they fear, and the phobic reaction is as a result of the automatic negative thoughts. [5]

The majority of anxiety disorders of this type are curable although no single method of treatment is used for all the phobias. Commonly used treatment methods are: [6]

  • CBT for phobia, which aids in getting rid of your fear through the gradual change of how you think
  • Understanding the how beliefs, thoughts, behaviours, and feelings are all interconnected
  • Ease fear through group therapy. Here people with the same fear are encouraged to overcome their fear through exposure sessions and psychoeducation classes in areas where their fears are manifested.
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy

Other conditions that CBT can solve are anger issues, depression, panic attacks, problems with stress, and eating disorders.

Why Is CBT Used?

CBT is used in the treatment of various kinds of problems. Most people prefer it as it is an accessible method and the most effective to cope with a given challenge. It has a structural way of doing it, and the session required are few.

While addressing emotional challenges, cognitive behavioural therapy comes in handy. For instance, it may aid you with:

• Mental illness treatment if medication isn’t helping

• Cope with loss or grief and medical illness

• Learn appropriate ways of communication and solve relationship conflicts

• Manage mental illness symptoms

• Understand techniques and ways for stressful life scenarios

In some scenarios, CBT is combined with other forms of treatment like antidepressants or dialectical behavioural therapy for maximum effect.

5 steps to cbt

5 Steps To CBT At Home

Research shows that people suffering from depression have a positive response towards self-study. Your therapist will guide you on the techniques on which you’ll use to eliminate negative thinking. Below are some ways:

1. Counteract the thought that is negative through self-written statements

Once you’ve located my source of your negative thoughts and your depression, you can counteract each thought by writing a self-statement and repeat this step. With time you’ll notice that you’re replacing the negative thoughts with the positive ones.

2. Identify the problem and think about the possible solution

You can discover the root cause of your problem or depression through talking and journaling. You can write down the issue I’ve identified and start pondering on a suitable solution.

3. Find new chances for positive thoughts

When every time you’re in a place and the only things you can see are those that you hate, try and find at least five things that you like about the place that you are at. This will help you to think positively about the place rather than the negative thought that might result in depression.

4. End each day by thinking about its best part

Every day when your day ends, ensure that you write the best part of that day in your journal. Recording and registering positive thoughts and sharing such thoughts will help your mind in forming new positive associations, thus creating new pathways.

5. Make disappointments as part of your healthy life

For you to move forward in life, you need to accept disappointments as a regular thing in your life. You can feel disappointed as it helps you to go through such times. You can also note down the occasion and the lesson you got from it and some resolution for next time. This will help you to carry forward with your future life.

Behavioural Experiments For Social Anxiety

Systematic desensitization is the most common behavioural techniques used in anxiety treatment. In this technique, the patient is gradually exposed in situations that provoke anxiety to ensure that over time they’ll elicit minimum fear. [7]

Anxiety disorder exposure training is a process that has to be gradual. And if it is not progressive, then it might cause more damage to the patient. Your therapist will gradually expose you to a fear-provoking scenario, and with time, you’ll realize that the fear is gone.

The first step might be imagined exposure. Then, after passing the first step, you can now go to the real world. The aim is to get you more accustomed to your fear, becoming less sensitive each time.

CBT At Home: Undoing The 15 Cognitive Distortions

‘Cognitive distortions’ are simply false beliefs or premises about ourselves or the world that our mind tricks us into believing. Their issue lies in the fact that we do not recognise them as ‘distortions,’ believing them to be in fact true.

This thinking derives from the 1970s psychologist Aaron Beck, who realised several of his depression patients displayed errors in their thinking, or believed bad things about themselves that were not necessarily true. Beck concurred that if he changed these ‘distortions’ or incorrect thoughts, it would be some relief from their depression.

The list below is for some of the most common cognitive distortions that can be used to help you with your CBT at home:

  • All or nothing thinking
  • Over-generalization
  • Polarized thinking
  • Disqualifying the positive
  • Mental Filter
  • Minimization or Magnification
  • Jumping into conclusion (Fortune telling and mind-reading)
  • Control fallacies
  • Personalization
  • Always being right
  • The fallacy of change and fairness
  • Fallacy Heaven’s Reward
  • Mislabelling and labelling
  • Emotional reasoning
  • Should statements

Essential CBT At Home Techniques & Tools 

The following are some of the most commonly used techniques by therapist, which you can also try during your CBT at home sessions. Start by creating a safe and peaceful space either sitting on a chair or lying down. Then close your eyes, count to ten very slowly, inhaling deeply on each breath and exhaling each breath over a count of 5 seconds. Then, try any of the following:

1. Cognitive reframing

Here the pattern of negative thoughts is explored in detail and then used to reframe reality. When you begin to enter a vicious cycle of depression, or feel anxious, stop and pause. Think of what the trigger is, identify your initial thoughts, notice your automatic reaction and rate how intense this response is. Then, think of alternative thoughts or reasons behind that trigger, and re-rate how intense your feelings are now after this alteration.

2. Guided discovery

In therapy, the therapist uses your point of view for their acquaintance. Then they pose a question to you that contradicts your belief to increase your thinking. However, this can be done at home by applying what is known as ‘Socratic Thinking.’ It is named after the Greek philosopher who taught his students how to question whether their beliefs were true.

This works in six steps: clearly defining the issue; deciphering which assumptions have been made; searching for evidence behind these assumptions; looking for fresh perspectives; predict the consequences of your feelings; then look back on this process and see if you have come up with new ideas.

3. Exposure therapy

This type of therapy is mainly for phobia and fears, whereby you’ll be gradually exposed to fear to provoke situations. You will then guide yourself on how to deal with such moments.

4. Thought records and journaling

Similarly to CBT, recording your thoughts in a journal allows you to identify the thing that triggered your emotion, note your beliefs, thoughts and feelings about it, and then the outcome of those thoughts. Writing this down helps redirect those false beliefs on paper, and also allows you to look back at previous thoughts and recognise negative patterns.

5. Behavioural experiments

This technique is for the treatment of anxiety, depression, panic disorder, and catastrophic thinking, which is a form of anxiety disorder. It works by encouraging yourself to discover, hypothesize or behave in a different way that will in turn result in your thinking and feeling in a different way.

Start by clarifying the belief or anxiety that you wish to test, and rate the intensity of this belief. Then, think of an experiment that tests this belief, and think of any obstacles that could occur. Do the experiment itself, noting feelings and thoughts and what you learnt. Finally, once you have reflected you can re-rate the intensity of this belief and see if it has changed.

6. Behaviour activation and activity schedule

Quite simply, lack of activity fuels depression as we feel lazy, without a purpose, and unsociable. This tactic is all about forcing yourself to do something slightly active, even if you don’t feel like it.

In case you want to avoid activity due to anxiety or fear, using your calendar is advisable. This will aid you in decision making, thus allowing you to follow the schedule.

7. Stress reduction and relaxation techniques

These practical skills are for decreasing stress and improving your control sense. They include:

  • Breathing: taking long, deep breaths which gently disengages the mind from all worries
  • Body scan: combining breathing exercises with muscle relaxation, this helps boost your cognitive and physical awareness
  • Guided imagery: thinking up picturesque scenery or a peaceful setting in your mind is a great way to reduce pain, depression and anxiety
  • Meditation: this is all about being aware of the present moment, and letting go of concerns through mindfulness
  • Mantra: also known as repetitive prayer, this involves repeating one short phrase or mantra until you zone out

8. Successive approximation

Here you take an overwhelming task, then you break them into segments. It aids in gaining confidence as you move from one step to another.

5 Quick CBT At Home Tips 

CBT is all about being prepared and knowing your own triggers and emotions. Having a mental log book of resources you can use in the moment is key. Below are some quick techniques you can practice wherever you are to help you cope with different challenging situations:

  • Ensure your thoughts are balanced
  • Be kind with yourself
  • Have patients
  • Do what you enjoy
  • Change your perception

Sometimes the plans we put in place won’t work, or we realise our emotions have taken effect when it’s too late. The following are the appropriate steps to take when you feel overwhelmed by your emotions:

  • Check your self-talk
  • Spot thoughts that are not helpful
  • Give a challenge to unhelpful thoughts
  • Replace unrealistic thoughts with realistic thoughts

What Is The SOLVED Technique?

This is a technique that is critical in client learning. SOLVED is used to educate the skills of problem-solving on clients [8] and its acronym provides essential tools for the individual through step of problem-solving. These letters stand for:

Select the client’s problem to be solved

Open your thought to all options of solutions

List the possible pro and cons for each possible solution

Verify the appropriate solution

Enact the solution

Decide on the effectiveness of the plan

Will Mindfulness Meditation Help With CBT At Home?

Mindfulness gives you a brand-new approach to looking at pre-existing and older thoughts. It enables you to become detached from your thoughts and feelings within your own body, offering sometimes an objective approach to your issues.

In becoming completely focused on the external world, the individual becomes fixated on moment-by-moment occurrences such as the sound of the wind or the feel of the carpet beneath their legs. In this, they can take a break from their own thoughts and become completely present.

It is however not about clearing out the mind altogether, but about realising and gently accepting the mind’s patterns. Meditation has the following benefits:

  • It improves your well-being
  • Meditation improves the state of your mental health
  • Mindfulness meditation improves your physical health

Want to know more?

If you’re looking for more information on anything to do with addiction, recovery, or mental health, call us today on 0800 088 66 86 for a free & confidential advice.

References


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23459093/


[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768591/


[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26487814/


[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584580/


[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29098136/


[6] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1755738012471029


[7] https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder


[8] https://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn16/docs/therapists_guide_to_brief_cbtmanual.pdf

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