A few years ago, after CBT had started to dominate taxpayer-funded therapy in Britain, a woman I’ll call Rachel, from Oxfordshire, sought therapy on the NHS for depression, following the birth of her first child. She was sent first to sit through a group PowerPoint presentation, promising five steps to “improve your mood”; then she received CBT from a therapist and, in between sessions, via computer. “I don’t think anything has ever made me feel as lonely and isolated as having a computer program ask me how I felt on a scale of one to five, and – after I’d clicked the sad emoticon on the screen – telling me it was ‘sorry to hear that’ in a prerecorded voice,” Rachel recalled. Completing CBT worksheets under a human therapist’s guidance wasn’t much better. “With postnatal depression,” she said, “you’ve gone from a situation in which you’ve been working, earning your own money, doing interesting things – and suddenly you’re at home on your own, mostly covered in sick, with no adult to talk to.” What she needed, she sees now, was real connection: that fundamental if hard-to-express sense of being held in the mind of another person, even if only for a short period each week.

Oliver Burkeman on CBT (Guardian)


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