Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

CBT is shite and a waste of money

(29 Posts)
Tisgrand Wed 08-Jun-16 02:55:23

Wow I feel so much better for getting that off my chest!

I've been seeing a CBT therapist privately, 4 sessions so far. She was recommended by my gp, is highly qualified and highly regarded in her field. I'm attending because of anxiety following a road traffic accident, however I have also suffered from depression for years and do take medication for that.

At my first session we discussed why I was there (mainly to try to conquer my anxiety but also to try to address the depression) and she told me that I was going to feel so wonderful after the third session that I'd "feel like throwing my tablets away" although she said she wouldn't recommend that. So I felt really hopeful after that first session.

But at each session since then she seems to do a lot of talking - I had assumed that there would be a lot of probing - I had actually told her that I hate talking about myself as I always start to cry. But actually, I haven't cried at all and I really don't feel that anything is being addressed in depth.

I actually feel condescended to, with comments such as "aren't you great to take such good care of yourself" and "its great that you have good friendships when you could have just given up and taken to your bed"! Then she gives me a "positive affirmation" for the week and some little exercises, like listening to music - I told her that I do listen to the radio but she told me to "really listen". I feel that this is all very obvious and a bit childish, the kind of stuff I've read about myself over the years (at much less cost). At £90 per session I somehow expected more, if you know what I mean. Well I'm not sure I know what I mean myself, but I certainly haven't felt remotely like throwing my tablets away so far!

So has anyone any thoughts, has anyone had better experiences of CBT or should I try some other form of therapy? So far I've spent £360 on sessions, my next session is next Monday but I'm sorely tempted to just cancel and forget about it. So disappointed though, at the very least I as hoping to be able to sleep better instead of posting here at almost 3am!

Motherfuckers Wed 08-Jun-16 03:27:23

I live in the US, where everyone has therapy for everything. I am quite cynical in a very British way. grin I am not convinced that talk therapy works for everything, but it can work, you do need to have the right therapist though, yours does not sound up to much tbh. I wouldn't necessarily bin the therapy just yet, but do look around for another therapist. Do any offer free initial consultations?

seoulsurvivor Wed 08-Jun-16 03:39:23

I think it depends. If you are depressed because you basically have a gloomy outook, I think it can help. In other cases it doesn't.

It didn't work for me at all. I am aready boundlessly optimistic, just also get very depressed and anxious. I found all the 'wooo you managed to eat a sandwich' made me feel even more depressed.

BursarsFrogs Wed 08-Jun-16 03:40:18

It's certainly not for me! I've always found CBT materials and exercises childish, over-simplistic and shallow. I've been told they can be deep and meaningful if somehow "done right with the right therapist", but haven't managed to see any sign of that myself. Luckily my own integrative therapist has taken my dislike of CBT on board and is actually being very helpful and a lot cheaper than £90.

KoalaDownUnder Wed 08-Jun-16 04:16:37

I want to be able to disagree, but I can't.

I found it simplistic and ineffective. And then I just felt more depressed and crap because I couldn't even do CBT right. confused

PitilessYank Wed 08-Jun-16 04:23:13

I have been having a great experience in therapy, but not in CBT. I have never had that-my therapist practices Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, which is similar to Psychoanalysis in that it explores the unconscious mind.

For me, it has been really helpful in that it encourages me to look at some of the unconscious assumptions I make and examine how they affect my thinking patterns and behavior. Perhaps you might find someone who uses elements of that in his/her practice?

wallywobbles Wed 08-Jun-16 04:39:40

I found it very helpful with the psychiatrist i saw. I had loads of homework to do between short sessions. Couldn't book next session until it was done. But I needed strategies for dealing with my ex and he gave or helped me find them. I still return to and recommend the books I had to read to others.

Homework was not listening to music although I did have to watch a film for my first homework. It made an effective point.

BrianBlowsBubbles Wed 08-Jun-16 04:43:43

I had CBT - it really helped me get over severe anxiety after my ds was born. My therapist wasn't condescending, she just really helped me get stuff into perspective.

I am sorry it isn't working for you but it can help a lot of people (people with anxiety for instance who might actually have appreciated some positive affirmations but could now feel foolish about that...) My therapist didn't do that aspect of it but knowing how easy it is to spend most of your time admonishing yourself I think I'd quite like to hear someone telling me I've done something well, however small.

I do think the cost of it is clouding your ability to let it work. You sound angry and frustrated that the money you are spending isn't fixing things and is being wasted.

I hope you find it helpful soon. If not, perhaps switch to a different therapist who doesn't make wild promises about making you want to throw away your tablets. She does sound a bit ridiculous.

BrianBlowsBubbles Wed 08-Jun-16 04:44:59

I had CBT - it really helped me get over severe anxiety after my ds was born. My therapist wasn't condescending, she just really helped me get stuff into perspective.

I am sorry it isn't working for you but it can help a lot of people (people with anxiety for instance who might actually have appreciated some positive affirmations but could now feel foolish about that...) My therapist didn't do that aspect of it but knowing how easy it is to spend most of your time admonishing yourself I think I'd quite like to hear someone telling me I've done something well, however small.

I do think the cost of it is clouding your ability to let it work. You sound angry and frustrated that the money you are spending isn't fixing things and is being wasted.

I hope you find it helpful soon. If not, perhaps switch to a different therapist who doesn't make wild promises about making you want to throw away your tablets. She does sound a bit ridiculous.

BrianBlowsBubbles Wed 08-Jun-16 04:45:28

Oops, sorry for double post blush

Snog Wed 08-Jun-16 05:09:14

Definitely change therapist and/or type of therapy.
I have found both person centred therapy and CBT to be very good but you do need to find the right "fit" of therapist. I generally see 3 or more to start with and pick my favourite.
You can also get free nhs CBT which may be worth a go?

Baconyum Wed 08-Jun-16 05:25:41

I am not a fan and I get pissed off that it's the NICE recommendation for almost all mh conditions! Plus she sounds like a shit therapist and only interested in achieving glory for herself.

Plus different therapists work for different people. Different therapies too, I got on better with a mix of traditional psychoanalysis, ACT and mindfulness.

I'm sick of being told 'cbt is the best therapy for ocd' as if that means it was MY Fault it didn't work for me.

AnxiousMunchkin Wed 08-Jun-16 05:41:09

I am having CBT through my local NHS IAPT centre, so free and I self-referred. Initially had 7 sessions "low-intensity" and was then approve for "high intensity" which I had a 5 month wait for and have just started. The wait was actually reasonably useful in that I had time to put into practice what I learned in the first level, before starting the next.

It is definitely helping me; it isn't a type of therapy where the therapist gets you to talk and magically fixes you by what you explore together; it's someone teaching you techniques that do have evidence base that they help improve anxiety and depression for a significant amount of people. I personally don't find it childish, although a lot of what I learn/do is common sense stuff when you think about it, the fact is I'm just not doing common sense stuff and that's why I've ended up in the mess I was/am in. Through CBT I've become an awful lot more aware of how various behaviours or thought patterns affect my feelings and emotions and feed my anxiety/depression/obsessive thoughts, and have learnt techniques to help change behaviours or challenge thoughts to help me feel better.

At the end of my initial CBT run i discussed 3 options with the therapist- continuing CBT if I found it helpful, trying 'traditional counselling' that might be more suitable if I had a particular trauma/issue from the past I wanted to 'deal with', which I could access via a local charity or trying a more in depth psychoanalytic type therapy, although I was advised to consider that type to be a project over an extended time period, and not available on NHS would have to be private. CBT isn't a magic cure-all but at the end of the day the reason it's so widely available and encouraged now is that there is evidence backing it.

I'm surprised your GP telling you to spend £90 a session though! Even the private therapists I looked at were £40-50 or a sliding scale (and I am in London) there are ways to access lower cost therapy eg through membership of AnxietyUK.

MuggleWuggle Wed 08-Jun-16 05:41:20

I started my first cbt session by telling my therapist I didn't think it was going to be what I needed, I was wrong. I was spiralling with failing marriage, health anxiety, low self esteem although coping without medication I was a bit of a mess mentally. It really helped me take stock, re-evaluate and change some of my thinking about myself and my life. I had 12 weeks that finished 9 months ago and despite some fairly shitty things happening I feel I have been more grounded, certainly not a miracle cure but I am in a better place mentally than before. However my therapist was great, she didn't just do straight cbt but brought in some mindfulness and other styles which worked for me. It wasn't at all patronising and in fact very informative, bit like going to tutoring in psychology & how the mind works. If you are not feeling it I would say, if you can, tell your therapist how you feel and be clear about what you need or are not getting.

rainytea Wed 08-Jun-16 06:01:46

The medical profession (and in countries with insurance, insurers) like CBT because there are lots of studies about it and it promises things like solving problems in 6 sessions rather than person-centred or psychodynamic (or other) approaches which don't make time-limited promises.

It does work for certain things, but the basis is essentially that if you change your thinking, then you change how you feel, so you feel better. Which is true, for some situations.

For deeper problems, it can help with managing symptoms, but it doesn't resolve the underlying problem for a lot of people.

If you are feeling it's not deep enough, then follow that instinct, because for you that's possibly right and a different type of therapy might suit you better.

Interestingly, there are more studies coming out saying that other therapy types are just as effective as CBT and sometimes more so. And they work at resolving the underlying issue, rather than dealing with changing thought patterns, meaning it's not just symptoms that are being dealt with.

Also important, for almost all types of therapy is that you like and feel a connection to the therapist. So I'd recommend looking around for a therapy that suits you better, don't be afraid to ask the therapist about it too, because every therapist goes about their work in a slightly different way, even if they're doing the same type of therapy - and make sure you like the therapist.

Baconyum Wed 08-Jun-16 06:19:34

'Interestingly, there are more studies coming out saying that other therapy types are just as effective as CBT and sometimes more so. And they work at resolving the underlying issue, rather than dealing with changing thought patterns, meaning it's not just symptoms that are being dealt with.'

Which therapies is ACT one?

NanaNina Wed 08-Jun-16 20:08:34

I think it's a case of "horses for courses" and whilst I know from MN that many people find it helpful, it's not for me. My CPN used to talk about some aspects of the theory but admitted she'd only been on a course so wasn't any kind of expert. I then decided to find an expert and it was appalling. I e mailed him some notes so as not to take time going over background details, but he still spent 20 mins going over this, and yes he was on about the "positive affirmation crap" and I said my CPN had mentioned this and he replied "Ah well what these youngsters don't know is that the positive affirmation has to come from someone else (dear god) and gave the example of my partner saying to me "you've got a lovely bum............" I know I should have left then but I couldn't really believe I'd heard right, as I have a slight hearing loss. Anyway he prattled on and I wrote a cheque for £70. When I got home I was SO angry that I phoned him and asked if he really had made the comment about the lovely bum - there was a silence then some sort of hummig and haaring then some more prattle. Unbelievable.

But OP is paying £90 per week - I hope you give it up, it's a lot of money to pay, especially when you find the "therapist" so condescending and she certainly shouldn't be doing the majority of the talking. Shocking. And the comment about how wonderful you were going to feel after the 3rd session is beyond shocking.

Brian I think your comment about the OP - "I do think the cost of it is clouding your ability to let it work" is very patronising and inappropriate.

I wish we could all accept that some therapies will help some people and not others, just as meds for MH will be of benefit to some and not others. I too am frustrated at how CBT has become a panacea for all ills and the NHS usually fund 6 weeks after a long wait.

FWIW I think the most important thing by far is finding a therapist with whom you feel comfortable, safe, connected etc. That's not going to happen straight away obviously but if after the first couple of sessions you don't feel safe and comfortable with the therapist then I reckon you should say goodbye. A good therapist will use the first session to see if you can form a therapeutic alliance as she/he will know that this is absolutely essential.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrh - this has reminded me of that fat bloke in a big leather chair spouting bullshit and charging me £70!! Don't waste any more of your money on this therapist OP and if it were me I would feedback my experience to the GP. And why wasn't he/she referring you for CBT on the NHS.

Lilybensmum1 Wed 08-Jun-16 22:34:39

I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience OP she does not sound like she can help you much. I have nearly finished 4 months of CBT for anxiety and depression and I can honestly say for me it is working but, my therapist sounds nothing like yours. I would recommend a book called full catastrophe living which I have found so helpful.

It's really difficult to see out when you are depressed and I was like this but CBT has taught me to live for the moment as that is all we truly have. I'm quite a skepticall but open person and thought CBT was too good to be true but it can work, I guess not for everyone. I have a therapist on the NHS can you get one on the NHS? I hope things improve its not a great place to be.

bibbitybobbityyhat Wed 08-Jun-16 22:40:51

CBT has been enormously successful for millions of people.

Just because it is not right for you does not mean it is shite and a waste of money!

colouringinagain Wed 08-Jun-16 22:51:36

Hmmm your therapist does not sound the best tbh!

In my and my DH's experience CBT can be helpful in addressing immediate symptoms and keep you functioning. However if you're someone with more significant mental health problems it really does act only as a sticking plaster because it doesn't begin to help you address the underlying issues that cause your maybe negative thinking for example. It can be helpful yes, but I don't think that it's the best treatment for mental illness, and the feeling that you've failed cos its not worked for you is clearly massively unhelpful.

fusionconfusion Wed 08-Jun-16 22:58:16

I had a full 30 sessions of CBT for severe OCD/perinatal depression on the NHS. The number of sessions really says a lot about the severity of my condition at that time.

We did very few traditional CBT exercises etc as pretty quickly the therapist worked out I had complex PTSD and not OCD at all and so the work was trauma-focused. It was absolutely undeniably needed and it worked very well to bring me back into my life. A lot of Mindfulness was incorporated and the therapist had a specific specialism in PTSD so was very helpful in how he framed things. I can honestly say he was never anything other than unfailingly kind, present, compassionate and balanced in his whole approach.

Most of the psychotherapeutic research says that the rapport and person qualities of the therapist are more relevant to outcome than the modality. Sometimes someone just isn't a great fit for you at that moment in life.

I needed CBT to manage to live again. Now I am doing more in depth psychotherapy with a psychodynamic therapist and really getting at the nub of things. Not everyone needs therapy. You will know if you do or don't. It was absolutely crucial to me for survival and to have a life worth living for - but that isn't the case for everyone.

Dozer Wed 08-Jun-16 23:02:16

shock at the bum comment!

£90 is way too pricy even if you were finding it helpful!

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Wed 08-Jun-16 23:10:24

I had 6 sessions which changed my life, the woman I saw was incredible. 90 quid is double the going rate round here!

StillDrSethHazlittMD Thu 09-Jun-16 09:54:56

I'm in the "didn't do it for me" camp. I tried, I really did.

Natsku Thu 09-Jun-16 10:09:25

Reckon you should try and find a different therapist as she's clearly not the right one for you (and by the sounds of it, possibly anyone...)

I started therapy in Feb this year, have a whole year of weekly sessions arranged for (thankfully in my country if a psychiatrist recommends you get therapy then most of the cost is paid for so its only 14 euros per session and my therapist even arranged for social services to cover that cost) and its been good so far. She doesn't go for positive affirmation (except to say that I seem to be a good mum when I've talked about my struggles with DD) and she does push me to talk about my past and has actually succeeded in that (only ever talked to one person in my life about it and regretted that so was rather adamant I wouldn't talk about that)

She's really into this Lifetraps thing www.lifetraptest.com and she lent me a book about it and it does make a lot of sense to me that much of my anxiety and depression stems from these 'lifetraps' caused partially by experiences in my childhood and partially by my abusive ex and it gives solid advice on how to change your behaviour to escape them. Got a long way to go yet though before I see if this will work.

She gives me homework each week, for instance to try a anger management method with DD (as a big part of my problem with anxiety and depression is that it makes me get really really angry very easily)

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now