Mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for Teachers and Students
What is CBT?
The idea behind CBT is that psychological distress is caused primarily by the way that we think about our life events and the way that we behave in response to them.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been used in Health, Education and Professional Development over the last 30 years to manage stress and increase wellbeing. It is recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for use in the NHS. Mindfulness, or Mindful Awareness, is the art of being focused and concentrated in the present moment—rather than lost in the past, or anxious about the future. Mindfulness enables us to respond skilfully to challenging situations, to make more effective decisions, to manage stress and to develop resilience. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps you recognise that how you ‘think’ affects your ‘feelings’ and your ‘behaviour’. CBT aims to help you manage your problems, about yourself, the world and other people, by changing how you think, feel and act which can help you feel better about life. Mindfulness uses a range of techniques that are easily learned by anyone to develop this awareness.
Why use Mindfulness and CBT in Schools?
Teachers: Teachers experience a range of challenges at work and in their personal life. Mindfulness practice helps to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and physical pain thus improving overall health.
Mindfulness for Teachers:
Teachers experience a range of challenges at work and in their personal life. Mindfulness practice helps to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and physical pain thus improving overall health.
Teachers have found they are more focused in the classroom and in prioritising work. More aware of when they are making reactive decisions as opposed to responsive decisions.
Mindfulness enables one to remain engaged in the present moment, to be more aware, facilitating making effective choices.
CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy which can help people look at the different situations that they find themselves in, and to understand their thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The idea is that our thoughts, emotions, physical symptoms and behaviour can all influence one another and therefore help to maintain unhelpful moods such as low mood. Take a look at the diagram below.
“This takes place with a psychologist usually in a clinical setting (e.g. hospital) although it is typically carried on an out-patient basis. CBT involves looking at your problems, examining thought and behaviour patterns, and working out ways of changing negative behaviours/thoughts. Most people seeking this type of therapy will be given a set number of sessions, usually 6-12, each session lasting approx. 50 minutes. Therapists often set clients “homework” to do in between sessions which may include carrying out activities such as monitoring thoughts and feelings throughout the week and entering these into a thought diary.”
Low mood can affect people in different ways which can impact their thoughts, their body on a physical level as well as what people do, or more specifically, what people may begin to stop doing. A common symptom of low mood is becoming less active and withdrawing from the daily activities that we need to do, or that we enjoy doing. When people feel like doing less, it is often the things that they used to enjoy that they stop doing in their weekly schedule. Withdrawing from activities may help to maintain low mood because there is a lack of opportunities for people to interact with others. People can also feel like doing less because it can feel easier to do nothing. Increasing activity levels can help break this vicious cycle by encouraging people to become more active in a structured way. This works by helping them to do activities in order to see how it affects their emotions, rather than waiting for them to feel like doing something, which may never come. If this sounds like you CBT could be the answer.
Learning how to manage negative thoughts can also help to manage your anxiety and low mood. When people are feeling low or anxious, their thoughts can often be extreme or unrealistic. As we discussed earlier, CBT calls these types of thoughts Negative Automatic Thoughts (Nats). As thoughts can influence our emotions, behaviour and vice versa, it is important to learn how to challenge some of our Nats. Although some people understand that their negative thoughts may not be true, it can be very difficult for people with anxiety or low mood to differentiate between the two and they often take their negative thoughts as fact.
“CBT isn’t a quick fix though or a magic cure. It’s problem-focused, practical and structured, but relatively short term, perhaps between 6-16 sessions depending on what you want to work on. It will require you to attend for hourly appointments once per week and commit to agreed between-sessions tasks and skill practice. But, CBT really works. And it’s an investment because once you have learnt the feel better tools and techniques I’ll show you, you’ve got them for life. This means you can be your own Cognitive Behaviour Therapist continue to feel better and prevent relapse.
CBT is the psychological treatment of choice recommended for a variety of mental health problems by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (NICE).”
If you feel like you need to talk to someone about this then see our Counselling Directory or alternatively speak to someone from the Education Support Partnership.