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Patient view: using Behavioural Activation

What does Behavioural Activation look like in practice? Hear from Ailsa, who talks about her experience of BA.
So when I’m depressed, one of the things I tend to do is withdraw from everything, from other people, from things that I enjoy. I find it quite hard to take any joy in anything at all. And in one of therapy sessions, my therapist started to talk to me about trying to find activities, anything at all, really, that would help me. I managed to find one small thing, and it might be having a cup of tea and really savouring the taste. I mean, something so minute and every day, but for me that was about practicing actually feeling enjoyment again. Because I had lost that sense. And gradually, I did manage to learn that.
I practised it, and it was almost as if my mind remembered how it was to feel pleasure in something. So I started with very small things, and I started with one a day. And I had to write this down. In my therapy I made a commitment. I made a commitment to do that. And the following week, I would go back and say, I’ve done this. And this is how it felt. And gradually over time, I managed to build that up, so that then maybe I’d do two things in a day, and three things. By the end my therapy, I was doing five things every day that gave me either a sense of achievement or some pleasure.
There was a lot more detailed work that went on within that, because I discovered over the course of my therapy that I tend to focus an awful lot on achievement. And that can make me very driven, so I’m busy. Yes, I’ve got to achieve things, and I’ve got to do things, and I’ve got to have made something happen. And I forget to enjoy myself. So again, we had to do more work trying to get that balance right of those two things about pleasure and achievement. I still do that today. Five years after I started therapy, I still do behavioural activation every day to keep myself well.

We have now seen what Behavioural Activation might look like – but what is the experience like for the patients who are doing it? In this clip, we hear from Ailsa, who talks about her experience of BA.

When watching the video, think about the following questions:

• How does Ailsa describe what BA was like and how it worked?

• Is this what you thought it would be like?

• What will you take from this clip?

Share your thoughts in the comment area below. We would also like to hear if you have any thoughts or comments about what we have covered so far?

Further resources:

If you are particularly interested in finding out more about Behavioural Activation, then you may be interested in reading the following introductory article by David Veale, Consultant Psychiatrist In Cognitive Behaviour Therapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and The Priory Hospital North London.

Behavioural Activation for depression by Veale, D. (2008)

What did you make of this article? Did it help you to better understand what Behavioural Activation is all about? Do you have any outstanding questions or queries?

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Understanding Anxiety, Depression and CBT

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