English Speaking Therapist, Natalie Marby, offering psychotherapy and counselling for foreigners living in Hamburg. Her main approach is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. She talks to MumAbroad Life about the power of positive thinking when it comes to mental health.
In general, all psychotherapies were created to compliment each other, based on the individual’s needs. As a therapist I’d say it’s a great advantage to have a broad education, since you can always pick the method or the technique that suits your client’s needs best.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a positive, short-term and goal oriented psychotherapy that produces clear, measurable changes. It’s based on the idea that our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings then create a certain behaviour. In order to change a behaviour, it may help to question your thoughts and especially the way you interpret situations. CBT can help you to identify unhelpful interpretations about others, the world and yourself through a process of evaluation, which will then help you to change any dysfunctional behaviour.
It’s easy and simple at the same time: it’s easy to think a positive thought, but if someone has developed a habit of negative thinking, this one positive thought will not make a difference. Negativity is simply a thought pattern, which is a habit. We all know how difficult it can be to change a habit, simply because we have created a massive momentum, which is a force that makes us do or think what we actually don’t want to do or think. A CBT therapist can help change thought patterns in a consistent way – it takes practise and focus, but if you are determined to feel better and are ready to set aside a certain amount of time per day, then it will probably will not take long until you see and feel an improvement.
Yes, based on my experience CBT can help with anxiety. Anxiety, panic attacks and general feeling of stress and unease are mostly rooted in wrong beliefs about ourselves and about what other people could think about us. These are thoughts which then create the anxious feelings. Self love is an important topic when it comes to treating anxiety as well as depression. Anxiety and depression both come from a lack of self protection and self worth.
I have treated all sorts of mental health issues with CBT, starting from typical everyday issues like anxiety, stress, depression, burnout, obsessive compulsive disorders, but also more serious issues like PTSD, addiction and personality disorders. I work a lot with English speaking expats living in Germany and the topics revolve mostly around relationship problems, communication issues, fear of speaking a foreign language, culture shock and life transitions.
My advice would be to care about how you feel. Our emotions are constantly showing us what we are currently focused on. It is difficult to track thoughts all the time, but if you feel bad, you are definitely focused on a negative thought or a negative circumstance. In that moment, it can help to decide that you want to care about how you feel. Then you can simply think of something that pleases you, for example a memory. Think of something positive until you feel better – that’s all it actually is. The reason why people can sometimes feel annoyed or even resistant to positive thinking is because they have developed a habit of negative thinking. Changing any habit creates resistance and discomfort. So you will need a little bit of will power at the beginning.
Yes, it works perfectly with children and adolescents. They are often much more open to the CBT methods than adults.
When I started my practice, I was looking for a niche, because I did not want to compete with the therapists who work for the health insurances. Since I am bilingual British-German, I quickly decided to give English speaking therapy a try and I was surprised about the large amount of English speakers in Hamburg who were desperately in need of therapy in English. The problem for English speakers in Germany is that most German psychotherapists are very reluctant towards the idea of offering their work in English, because they have a deep fear of making mistakes or missing something important.
English was my first language, before I learned German as a child, so my English is quite close to a native level. My mother always spoke English with me, although we lived in Germany and I am very grateful for being brought up like this.
I know exactly what English speakers are struggling with in Germany, because I watched my mother go through the same frustration about ‘those rude Germans’. I’m happy to be able to help English speakers understand how they can live in Germany without becoming frustrated or unhappy – and even maybe one day start to love the Germans, because actually they can be really great and supportive and also quite kind.
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