Is CBT Just About Positive Thinking?

04th February 2019

Cognitive behavioural therapy is currently the dominant psychological approach for treating a range of mental health difficulties. There is a vast evidence base for its efficacy and it can be particularly helpful in workplace settings. Stress and emotional difficulties are a major cause of staff absence and employers are becoming increasingly proactive at identifying and addressing stress in the workplace in order to enhance staff wellbeing.

“But isn’t it just a matter of positive thinking?” We often get asked this by both managers and employees who are struggling in the workplace. Their difficulties might be about adapting to change at work or personal problems that are impacting onto productivity. Either way, there’s a little more to CBT than just thinking positively!

5 ways that CBT can help employees:

  • Relaxation techniques – a range of difficulties, such as stress, sleep problems and phobias can be helped with relaxation techniques. This can be in the form of learning controlled breathing, muscle relaxation or developing mindfulness techniques.
  • Problem solving – sometimes particular concerns, such as financial or relationship problems can impact onto stress at work. Talking through these problems and generating potential solutions can form a large part of CBT.
  • Challenging unhelpful thoughts – negative thoughts such as ‘I can’t cope’ often feature when someone is struggling with emotional difficulties. CBT will help to develop, not just a more positive, but also a more realistic and balanced perspective on self-beliefs.
  • Behavioural experiments – once negative thoughts have been identified then they can be tested out in real life situations. For example a person who believes ‘I can’t cope with change’ might be asked to work through a small, manageable change in the workplace. Their success in this task would improve confidence to cope with larger changes.
  • Relapse prevention – paying attention to early warning signs and potential triggers for emotional distress can help to reduce the impact. Learning to access support in the workplace at an early stage can play a big role in employee wellbeing.

For further information about how CBT can help with workplace difficulties contact Penny Hayler

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