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Learning to cope more effectively using CBT

According to Mental Health Ireland, 1 in 4 people at some point in their life will

experience a significant mental health issue. 1 in 4 people. Often, we may feel

alone in what we are struggling with and think that everybody else is “normal”

in comparison to us or that everybody else has it “easier”. While it may

sometimes seem that many of those around us “have it together”, more often

than not - we are surrounded by people who may be struggling with their

mental health. 

The Health at a Glance Report, reported that Ireland has one of the highest

rates of mental health illness in Europe. 18.5% of the Irish population recorded

as having issues including anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or

alcohol/drug use. This report was in 2016 and demonstrated that almost 1 fifth

of the Irish population reported mental health issues such as those listed


Within my  practice and taking into consideration the clients I currently work

with and have previously worked with, at the beginning of starting to work with

a client in our first session I always ask and try to establish “what are your

goals during your time attending sessions?” or “what would you like to gain

from sessions?”. One of the most common answers I note is that clients are

always looking for effective ways to cope within their daily life. Clients want to

be equipped with a toolbox of skills, strategies and techniques which they can

use when faced with the struggles associated with their presenting problems.

The good news is there are a multitude of tips and tricks and grounding

techniques to safeguard yourself in the moment of a struggle, however we can

also put in the groundwork in advance and build our overall resilience.

While learning to effectively cope can be a process which can be timely and

varying in duration for everyone, this article will highlight three areas to aid you

in coping more effectively when faced with a variety of mental health

difficulties. Please note that we recommend consulting with a professional for

long term results and success and combatting what you are facing and the

tips highlighted below are advised to be complimentary as part of a wellness

plan or programme where necessary. 

Below are 3 useful Cognitive Behavioural methods for consideration when

establishing methods to cope more effectively. N.B if you would like further

information on each of these areas - these can be discussed with a member of

our team in more detail.

CBT Methods to help you cope more effectively

1. Self-Monitoring - When working with any issue, building awareness of

what is going on is an essential first step towards being able to make a

change. Without awareness we cannot acknowledge what is currently

not working for us. During CBT, self-monitoring is a key factor of being

active in your own wellness and taking responsibility for improving how

you feel. Monitoring how you feel may often be done using thought

records, daily mood logs, food diaries etc. Understanding what is going

on for you and being proactive in this process can really help you feel

like you are managing your negative experience, further resulting in

greater ability to cope effectively. 

2. Cognitive Restructuring - Again, bringing in the awareness element

here - we must first start with the identification and recognition of our

negative thoughts and beliefs. Our negative/limiting thoughts and beliefs

about ourselves, our environment and others can directly be linked with

poor mental health. Cognitive restructuring involves becoming aware of

these thoughts/beliefs and disputing/challenging them and further

changing them. We do this by searching for a logical evidence base to

support that what we are thinking is in fact true or in most cases we

realise that what we are thinking or believe is untrue and not based on

fact. When we begin to find alternative and new ways of thinking, we

can in turn improve how we feel.

3. Goal Setting & Management - When we feel low or are going through

a tough time, our goals may often fall by the wayside or even be hard to

think of. Having goals and things you want to strive towards achieving

can aid you in recognising the meaning and purpose associated with

your life. While goals can be an anxiety provoking source of stress at

times, they can also be a way of establishing personal strengths.

However, with that in mind - it is important to take into consideration

what your goals are, whether or not it is currently achievable or realistic

and establishing a frame of time to when you’d like to see the goal

completed. Setting goals and managing goals can be another key

feature of feeling like we can cope more effectively with what life is

throwing at us.

While we take into consideration also the varying levels of how we all cope

differently, please note - if you, or someone you know is at immediate risk of

suicide or self-harm, go to or call the emergency department of your local

hospital. You can also contact emergency services on 112 or 999 anytime,

day or night. 

Lloyd Horgan


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