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Make New Year Resolutions Work With Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Updated: May 18


New Year's Resolutions often don’t work without the frame work Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, at Edinburgh CBT, can provide.

Usually what we want when we make New Year Resolutions, is in some way, to feel better, which is also the aim of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The problem with New Year Resolutions is that that we often expect them to happen without actually making any significant, lasting changes.

Female Edinburgh based therapist uses CBT Therapy strategies and tools with a  client to bring about the changes the client wants to make and meet his therapeutic goals
Therapist and Client Working in Session


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidenced based therapy proven highly effective in treating a wide range of issues. It is based on the concept that what we think, do and feel are interconnected. Even a slight change in one area, will bring about a change in the others, which keeps us motivated, as we work to meet our goals (or New Year Resolutions).


Our sessions are relaxed and confidential. As we talk, we will explore the patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours running beneath our daily level of consciousness.

Usually, these stem from deeply held core beliefs about who and what we are. We all have these. Some are magnifient and serve us well. Others don’t fit us anymore and the patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours they affect, hold us back in life.Slowly we amend those deep seated, often limiting, core beliefs through discussion, exploration and behavioural experiments.


Please note, what goes on in therapy is always utterly confidential. John is a fictional client, used to give some insight into how therapy might work for you.

John made a New Year Resolution to improve his social life, just like he did every year, but he realised he had no idea where to begin, and another year slipped by.


What Brought John to Therapy

John felt isolated and lacking in self esteem. His therapeutic goal was to feel more comfortable in social settings. He acknowledged that he would have to make changes in order to achieve this goal and this time he chose to commit to himself by engaging with therapy.


How John's Beliefs and Behaviours Kept Him Stuck 

In the weeks of therapy that followed, John explained how he felt like an outsider when at social gatherings. He believed no one was interested on what he had to say, so he avoided eye contact and didn't say much. He felt like he was an onlooker, watching everyone else having fun, feeling anxious and awkward. As a result, he seldom accepted invitations to socialise.


The first time he remembered feeling this way, was when he was at school. He was badly bullied and had come to believe that this negative experience in some way was his fault. In telling his story John became aware that he protected himself from judgement of others by remaining silent in company. He has been hiding in company ever since. An unintended consequence of this strategy might have been that others felt he was not interested in them. He might have seemed aloof and so they did not engage him in conversation. This kept his problem going, as keeping himself safe in this way meant that people never saw the real him and he missed out on feeling connected with others.


John Realised He Was in Control of What Happened Next

John noticed that he did not hold this same belief in his professional life as a teacher, where he felt confident in his abilities with good knowledge of his subject area. After a while he felt brave enough to challenge this belief that people were not interested in him in social contexts.


How John Changed His Beliefs & Behaviours To Feel Better

We worked on dropping his safety behaviours of not making eye contact and remaining quiet. The thought of this made him feel vulnerable and anxious at first. What if they rejected him or worse, ignored him all together? What if he could think of nothing to say?


We prepared some conversation starters, and practiced what it would feel like to engage people with eye contact and finally in discussion. We had fun using behaviour experiments, which he found challenging at first, but was delighted to learn that his fears of being rejected did not come true. His motivation increased and he decided to take these experiments out of the therapy room and into the public, where he engaged in small talk in local shops and cafes. Steadily his confidence grew and as he worked on challenging his own limiting beliefs in between sessions as well. He started to accept invitations to go out with acquaintances.


What John Did Next

We looked back over John's time in therapy and realised he had achieved his goals. He decided it was time to end therapy. He felt able to try on his own, to put the tools we had worked on into practice. First thing on the agenda was to find a new partner - Go John!


You will learn the basic tools required to be your own therapist as you work towards your therapeutic goals and feeling better. For more information on how we can help you achieve your goals, please get in touch through our website. We look forward to hearing from you 


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