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Help For Mental Health

Mental health problems will affect most of us at some point in our lives and one in four of us will seek help from our GP. In addition, most of us will experience a wide range of emotional problems such as relationship problems or low self-esteem.  

But therapeutic techniques have been proved to be effective in helping with these problems. All of Robinson’s self-help titles, including the bestselling Overcoming series, are based on therapies with a strong base of evidence that they work in reducing psychological and emotional problems. 

Titles in the Overcoming series largely use techniques from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), along with strategies from other therapies that have been proven to work for a particular problem or disorder. Robinson also publishes titles that use techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Mindfulness, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) or that use a blended mixture of these approaches.

This section contains information produced by Robinson on over 30 different psychological, emotional or physical conditions. Choose a topic from the list on the left - you'll find a wealth of information about the problem, as well as advice on how to treat it and information on self-help materials produced by Robinson. 

Our authors are psychologists, psychiatrists, trained therapists and counsellors and each of them is a leading expert in their field. The resources are based on their many years of experience treating patients. Many guides in the Overcoming series are recommended under the Reading Well scheme.

What do we mean by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) was pioneered by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s in the USA and has since been known for its clinically-proven effectiveness in treating psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as problems such as marital difficulties and weight problems. This popular form of therapy is now recommended in the UK by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of disorders such as anxiety, bulimia nervosa, panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder.

CBT takes the approach that the way we think, feel and behave are all closely linked and that by changing the way we think about ourselves, our experiences and the world around us, we can change how we feel and what we are able to do. So, for example, by helping a depressed person identify and challenge their automatic depressive thoughts, they can find a route out of the cycle of depressive thoughts and feelings. In the same way, the way we behave is determined by how we think and feel and so CBT, by providing a way for the behaviour, thoughts and feelings to be brought under control, helps us to break negative patterns of behaviour and lead a different kind of life. Such problems can be effectively treated using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). 

A large number of chronic or long-term physical conditions such as chronic pain can also be treated effectively using CBT. 

What do we mean by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and commitment therapy (which is usually shortened to ACT and pronounced ‘act’) is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy pioneered by Steven C. Hayes in the 1980s. Put simply, ACT encourages a mindful acknowledgement of difficult feelings and what life brings us (the acceptance part), and helps you work towards value-driven goals (the commitment part).

ACT is not a set of rules – it is a way of life. ACT has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of helping people to ‘un-stick’ themselves: to escape from the quicksand of uncomfortable internal experiences, not by fighting, suppressing or trying to change them, but by developing a sense of willingness to do the things that bring you fulfilment, even when that means coming into contact with painful thoughts and feelings. ‘Acceptance’ does not mean simply resigning yourself to a life of pain and unhappiness. It means acknowledging that certain things in life are outside of your control. We have a lot less control over our thoughts and feeling that we have been taught to believe, but we can take full responsibility for what is within our control – what we do and say, how we live our lives every day.

But ACT is also about more than that.  Life is for a living and many of us are so busy attending to the business of living our lives – jobs, bills, responsibilities, routine – that we don’t stop to think about what is really important to us. ACT involves pressing the pause button and asking the questions that most of us rarely spend much time considering. What kind of a person do I want to be? What do I want to stand for in life? How do I really want to use the limited amount of time and energy available to me every day? These questions can help you to set goals that will take you closer to the life that you want and can motivate you to take actions – even tiny ones – that are true to your values.

What do we mean by Compassion Focused Therapy?

Compassion focused therapy (CFT) is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy developed by Paul Gilbert that concepts from evolutionary psychology, Buddhism and other disciplines. The central technique is compassionate mind training, which teaches helps transform problematic thoughts and emotions by developing a more compassionate approach to yourself and others.

There is an increasing research base that demonstrates how important compassion can be for dealing with the threat and resolving a conflict. It is an especially useful technique for highly self-critical people.

Often there is a misconception about the term ‘compassion’; a feeling that it is about being nice, and is perhaps and bit soft and fluffy.  In fact, compassion is very different from this. To be compassionate we need to be willing to turn towards what is difficult, to be supportive and empathic (to ourselves and others) in times of difficulty and suffering, to face a problem, rather than avoid it. Compassion is often what we need, in order to develop the courage we require, to face the things that are difficult. If we are open to compassion for ourselves then it can help us face difficult things in new ways that help us cope.

The compassionate mind approach brings together an understanding of how our human mind can cause us difficulties but also provide us with a powerful solution in the shape of mindfulness and compassion. It teaches ways to stimulate the part of the brain connected with kindness, warmth, compassion and safeness. This part of the brain is key in supporting us through our suffering, and also in calming the part of the brain that makes us feel anxious, angry, sad and, ultimately, depressed. 

What do we mean by Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a form of brief psychotherapy, developed in the 1970s by Gerald Klerman and Myrna Weissman. It focuses on resolving interpersonal problems and your interactions with other people – how we relate to, communicate with and understand each other. 

IPT is a well-researched and well-practised approach that has been used effectively for over forty years in lifting people out of depression and helping them to stay well for longer. It has helped people of all ages from teenagers (IPT-A is a form of interpersonal psychotherapy for adolescents) to women and men well into their retirement. IPT has also helped people with eating disorders, bipolar disorder (a mix of very high and low moods) and some anxiety problems. 

IPT focuses on the difficulties in relationships with other people that are often important in mental health problems like depression, recognizing that depression is likely both to spark relationship problems and to be the result of them. IPT isn’t burdened by complicated explanations about why these problems happen. Instead, it looks at the day-to-day difficulties you may be experiencing in keeping relationships going or in sorting out the inevitable problems with other people that develop when you are depressed and helps you to disentangle the two strands.

Interpersonal psychotherapy is best approached by thinking in terms of recruiting a team around you to help you work through it - partners, friends, family, maybe your IPT therapist. The people on your team are the people who are interested in your recovery and would like to help you to get there. IPT has some useful ideas about how a collective effort can help you to tackle your problems.

What do we mean by Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a psychological process derived from Buddhist traditions that involve bringing your attention to what is occurring in the present moment. It is a state of mind that can be reached through meditation or other mindfulness training exercises. The more modern interpretation of mindfulness stems from the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Many therapeutic approaches now incorporate elements of mindfulness, which has been shown to help reduce depression, anxiety, rumination, worry and stress. But there are also formal courses of therapy that place mindfulness at their core, such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

What do we mean by Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a modified form of cognitive behavioural therapy first developed in the 1980s by Marsha M. Linehan. It is a useful therapy for the treatment of personality and mood disorders where there is a need to change unhelpful behaviour patterns such as self-harm, suicidal feelings and substance abuse.

DBT works by helping people to understand the triggers that lead to their unwelcome thoughts and behaviours and to develop coping skills and ways of intervening at appropriate points to regulate their emotions and actions. 

DBT has a strong evidence base for working for people with borderline personality disorder but is also now used in a variety of other treatments including eating disorders and mood disorders. 

What do we mean by Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is an early form of cognitive behavioural therapy pioneered by influential therapist Dr Albert Ellis in the 1950s. According to REBT, it is largely our thinking about events that leads to emotional and behavioural upset. REBT how to examine and challenge negative thinking which creates unhealthy emotions and unhelpful behaviours.

REBT is a practical approach to overcoming adversity and achieving goals. It uses a variety of techniques to help people change their unhelpful beliefs into more sensible and realistic ones. It has been proven to help with a variety of disorders, including anger and irritability, anxiety and relationship problems.