The Top CBT Tips for Psychologists

March 11, 2011 Kate White
  • First, do no harm. Which MD or not, you are tinkering with my brain.
  • Listen, and don't talk to me like I'm an idiot
  • Try using psychobabble and I let down the tires on your car

I doubt I'm alone in being disturbed by some of the language used to treat anxiety and mental health difficulties. There have been more than a few therapy sessions, TV shows, books I've walked away from feeling alienated, stupid, or depressed. Which is actually quite impressive, given where I was to start off.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy labels certain lines of thinking as 'distorted'. Well no, I don't have 'distorted thoughts'. I just have thoughts.

That they may seem distorted to you, or to a psychiatrist, fine. Of course. I frequently question my therapist's sanity; That doesn't make them any more or less sane than they were a minute before I'd decided their line of thinking was off track.

I experience anxiety, not leprosy

I completely understand getting me to see where I may not be headed along lines which will ultimately get me out of the traps anxiety sets. But I don't consider psychotherapists who pepper their treatment discourse with jargon to be particularly good at their job.

You can make the same points, achieve the same results, without making me even more anxious about the things going on in my own head.

My thoughts aren't distorted because your clinical language deems them so, and I can do without the linguistic bingo when it comes to the very things I already feel bad enough about.

The way psychologists and psychiatrists talk about what's "wrong" with me has a big impact on how well I can ever get. It can form its own glass ceiling - the same way being exposed to repeated trauma made for learned helplessness down the track.

Does why we talk about mental health matter?

Yes. Even more so the way we talk to each other about our mental health.

The best therapists I've had have avoided using psychobabble, wherever possible. It has been appreciated. Talking to me like I'm a walking page of the DSM-IV won't get me healthier faster. And it certainly doesn't help.

A lot of people in the mental health community do it anyway, and I know I'm not immune. Between professionals and clients I find it particularly irksome but it's just plain troubling when it's between those of us who should know better anyway.

I've sat in on more than a few blog/forum discussions wherein people debate the diagnoses of other people online; Labels being batted about, people walking away with bruised egos, the odd virtual bloody lip.

I may have an anxiety disorder but I still know my own mind

There's a great deal of support to be found online but it's all a waste of time if I can't hear someone's voice. If I can't see that I probably can't see the whole picture - not just because it's virtual, or because I have an anxiety disorder but because I really never could.

APA Reference
White, K. (2011, March 11). The Top CBT Tips for Psychologists, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Kate White

Dr Musli Ferati
March, 23 2011 at 9:34 pm

The Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is wellcome approach for mentally ill patient as well as for professionals of mental health. In this subtype of psychotherapy through an intensive and sophisticated manner, the therapist make an effort of changing attitudes of patient to moderate the daily conduct of the same. In this therapeutic procedure, preliminary, should be include the whole premorbid psycho-social features of mentally ill person, in order to be effective and successful psychotherapist. Besides this, it ought to respect, as therapist, socio-cultural milieu from which patient come. Other important aspect of this close therapeutic alliance is intellectual and academic level of psychiatric client. All these individual features are in concordance with capacity of empathic performances of psychotherapist. Otherwise, the achievement of this kind of therapy would be fallacious; i.e. the humanistic approach remains elementary condition for specialist of CBT.

Donna M.
March, 19 2011 at 11:41 pm

Hello John,
I went through CBT for 11 years. I worked hard and long and sometimes I rebelled because this is my nature. When I first started this therapy I tried to committ suicide 2 times. This was all do to transferance. After we worked through that issue we moved on to the others. This therapist had 25 years of expereince. She was very kind to me and soon I knew she loved me. This had everything to do with my getting well.I had a Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis. Through the many years of intence therapy I have alot of peace and serenity in my life today, something I never knew before. So CBT can work if we work it.

March, 19 2011 at 2:15 am

in my opinion, i guess therapy is there for us to make us aware of our thought patterns which cannot be changed unless we are aware of them to begin with. We must first confront our demons which can make us feel worse, before we can even start to accept them and let go. Some people cant handle being told the truth, but i think that is part of therapy also. whEN YOU FEEL WORSE THRU THERAPY make you feel like you want to give up, but this is when you must stay and keep on keeping on. some people need to be in therapy for years, others dont. but apparantly it has been said that people who resist therapy are in denial?? what do you guys think?
as a reminder thru tough times, we have to look back at when we first started therapy and recognise how we now are able to handle certain situations better.
no pain no gain

john burtonclay.
March, 14 2011 at 6:26 pm

Thanks for answering me Kate. I agree. sometimes talking can help. A wise person can come up with a concept you hadn't thought of, even though it might be the bleedin' obvious. Unfortunately, despite all the counselling and CBT I've endured, I can only think of one occasion when this happened, and it really did help. Made me see a problem in a different light, and it sort of went away. All it really involved was acceptance of the way it is.

Kate White
March, 12 2011 at 9:04 pm

Hi john,
Just to be clear, I think talking helps - just not when it's the kind that calls into question everything I think, and as you say, certainly not if it make you feel worse or think you're a bad person.
I hope you're able to create some really positive changes for yourself. :) You know yourself best!

john burtonclay.
March, 12 2011 at 4:52 pm

I reckon you're on the right track. All the bullshit expensive talk in the world doesn't help. Anyway i think there's more to it than just defective thinking. I can't accept that ticking a few boxes will make you feel better. I found it makes you realize how bad you are, then you feel worse. Waste of time, all of it. I try to see things differently myself, and adjust my thought patterns for the better i hope. It can be done.

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