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Westfield explains the benefits of cognitive behavioural therapy

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Government figures show that one in four people will suffer from a form of mental illness at some point in their lives. The NHS has launched a revised approach to the treatment of mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety disorders. In a step away from drug therapies, the government has injected extra funding to increase the number of counsellors able to deliver talking therapies, particularly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


Westfield Health has introduced CBT for the first time as part of the package of benefits on its Foresight Plan. But what is CBT and what is it like to undergo therapy?


Six years ago, 29-year-old Melody Patterson developed a severe phobia of being sick, “CBT is a way of talking about how you think about yourself, the world and other people and how what you do affects your thoughts and feelings. It can help you to make sense of overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller parts. I was told to put together a 15-step ladder that needed to include the things I wanted to do, but felt I could not. The bottom of my ladder was going for a walk; the next was a visit to the shop, and so on. I had to complete each step over a week, before my next therapy session. It took time, effort and a lot of tears, but I got there in the end. There were times I really had to force myself and was petrified, but the sense of achievement when I had done it was incredible. It is by no means a magic wand treatment, and you have to put the effort in. But by helping control your feelings and thoughts, it leaves you with a manageable solution and it makes you feel better without even realising it.”


Health cash plans: News update: 29 March 2010