Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to help with life’s challenges Psychology For Better Living Dr Paul Sigel, Clinical Psychologist, Central London W1 & EC2

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Individual Therapy

Whilst individual therapy varies depending on the specific problems that individual clients bring, people tend to benefit from two broad areas of focus

• gaining new perspectives by understanding the problem in terms of life experiences and the current impact of the difficulties.

• developing strategies & skills to address problems more effectively, by making changes (in their thinking or behaviour) or by accepting & coping (with problematic circumstances or conditions).

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a well-evidenced, practical and short-term approach that focusses on resolving current problems. Therapy sessions are usually guided by well-defined goals, based on the needs identified at assessment. Clients are encouraged to apply what we discuss to everyday situations between sessions, enabling them to try out and practice what they have learned.

The effectiveness of CBT has been enhanced by the development of newer forms of “third wave” CBT, helping clients in ways that more traditional CBT did not.

DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) focusses on emotions and interpersonal interactions, helping people to address problematic emotional states or reactions and to improve relationships with other people.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) for helping people "be with" problematic thoughts & emotions without being overwhelmed by them. These therapies can also help people enlist their strengths, skills and values to address their problems.


Depression develops for different reasons and in different ways, depending on the individual. Some people may have long-standing problems they associate with particular experiences and events earlier in their lives. Others will experience changes in their mood after particular life events or in response to developing a medical condition. The first step is to identify the triggers or causes in order to develop an appropriate plan for therapy. The second step is to identify the factors that keep people "stuck" in depression, so that we can work together to get them "unstuck" and to move. This work is often complemented by the integration of strategies from DBT, ACT and mindfulness-based CBT.

Anxiety Problems - Worry, Panic, OCD, Social Anxiety & Post Traumatic Stress

Anxiety problems occur in the context of triggers and experiences, which lead people to avoid particular situations or "threats." People with these problems often experience high levels of distress that are difficult for them to manage and interfere with their everyday pursuits.

The therapy I provide involves helping people understand these problems and, more importantly, to overcome them. I specific interventions for tackling specific problems, such as social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. This is because there is overwhelming evidence that supports their effectiveness.

I supplement these approaches with strategies from DBT, ACT and mindfulness-based CBT to help people manage distress when confronting their feared "threats."

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is characterised by changes in mood which can lead to problematic behaviour and are often highly disruptive for the lives of people who are affected by them.

I draw on evidence-based strategies from CBT, Psycho-education, DBT and Mindfulness to help people understand and improve ways they manage their moods. Often people with Bipolar Mood can have experienced problems in their relationships with other people or they may have significant problems with anxiety (such as excessive worry, social anxiety or OCD). In these cases, therapy may include use of therapeutic strategies described above for these problems.

Health Anxiety

Health Anxiety is a condition whereby people become hypervigilent or overly focussed about the threat posed by illnesses and medical conditions. This can lead to high levels of distress as well as problematic behaviours, such as scheduling unnecessary medical appointments or avoiding them all together. Therapy helps people to confront their fears and to reduce their problematic behaviours (which usually serve to maintain the problem and their distress).

Coping with Medical Conditions, Stress and Difficult Life Events

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