Saturday, December 13, 2014

Intro to CBT course City Lit March 2015

Introduction to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Dates: Saturday 07/03/15
Time: 10:30 - 17:30
Location:  Keeley Street, London 

What is the course about?

This course explores Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which has become one of the main models for counselling in recent years especially in the NHS. Evidence shows it is effective in helping with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Two key CBT ideas are : what you think affects how you feel, and what you do affects how you feel. In this course you will discover ten key CBT ideas. The course is practical as well as theory-based and will include step-by-step procedures of the stages in CBT.

What will we cover?

The programme will include the following:
10 key CBT Ideas
Practical techniques such as thought records and behavioural experiments.
Case studies and illustrations.

To enrol , call 020 7831 7831 or click here.

City Lit 

Personal & Professional Development Opportunities in the New Year

City Lit

Introduction to Existential Counselling

When: 17/01/15  10:30 - 17:30
Where:   Keeley Street  London (nr Holborn)

What is the course about?

The course provides an introduction to existential counselling and psychotherapy.

What will we cover?

The course will give a brief overview of existentialism and the history of existential counselling, followed by an outline of the theory and practice of existential counselling, including consideration of a case study.

Tim says: "This course gets very good ratings every year - must be doing something right! There's a nice mix of mini-lectures, small group work, case vignettes and even film clips. If you are a counsellor or trainee counsellor interested in the existential approach, this might be a good way to spend a Saturday. "
To enrol , call 020 7831 7831 or click here.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

All I want for Christmas is ....

Stuck for a Xmas present for a friend or family member?  Not sure what to ask for yourself?
How about getting someone you'd like to see flourish more in life my new book, Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology?

In it you (or your friend) will learn

  • How to be happy
  • The ingredients of the good life
  • How to have better relationships
  • How to be more resilient
  • How to be wiser

and much more ....

The book is enriched by numerous case studies and pieces of practical advice.

Here is what some people have been saying about Achieve Your Potential .. by Tim LeBon

"This book has a wealth of information and fascinating case studies which will take you on a fulfilling journey through the relatively new perspective of positive psychology. Tim LeBon does not leave you to fend alone but encourages us to take responsibility for ourselves through guided action plans, diagnostic tests and key ideas leading to newer and fresher outlooks. I would encourage anyone interested in positive psychology to soak this book up and take a step towards a better life." 

Ilona Boniwell, Associate Professor at Ecole Centrale Paris and author of Positive Psychology in a Nutshell

"This is an excellent book, which guides you through Positive Psychology in a clear, engaging way" 

"An excellent book well worth buying."

"Brilliant read"

Remember - a present isn't just for Christmas - it can help for the whole of 2015 and beyond.

Don't miss out -you can get a copy from for just £8.79

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Preparing for Stoic Week - How to use Donald Robertson's Stoic Self-Monitoring Form

Tomorrow is the start of Stoic Week, and now is the time to do the questionnaires and read the first few pages of the handbook.
It's also a good time to begin Stoic Self-Monitoring

Donald Robertson has created an excellent form in his recommended book, Stoicism and the Art of Happiness to help you do this and it explains in the booklet how to use the form.  I thought it would be useful to give some (hypothetical) entries.

Stoic Self-Monitoring Record Sheet 
Instructions: Use this sheet to record your thoughts, actions, and feelings in challenging situations. As soon as you notice troubling emotions or desires arising (called “passions” in Stoicism), pause and take a step back from the initial “impression” (or thought) underlying them. Then ask yourself whether the thing you’re becoming upset about is actually under your control (“up to you”) or not. Also try to record your actions, their consequences, and whether they were actually beneficial or not.

Below is an illustrative examples which shows how to do the sheet and also how useful Stoic self-monitoring can be!

Briefly describe the situation.
Feelings (Passions)
Include early-warning signs.
Thoughts (Impressions)
Particularly those causing feelings.
Is this “up to you” or not?
Were they beneficial?
1.  Driving to work, car blocking my way to get onto roundabout
Early sign, clenched teeth, “should”
That’s so inconsiderate! Don’t they realise they are blocking me!
Not up to me at all
I swore under my breath, just got me upset, did no good
2. Interview tomorrow
Anxious, worried
“What if thoughts”
Feeling tense
“What if they ask me questions I cant answer?”
Image of myself looking stupid
What they ask isn’t up to me.
However I can prepare for the interview
Decided not to worry but instead to spend half an hour researching the company which was useful
3.Don't get a reply to my email to friend
Concerned about friendship
They obviously aren’t as interested in the friendship as me
They don’t like me
I can't make everyone like me
I can't control what other people do
I can control my response.
Dwelt on it for a while which made me feel worse
Then remembered this Stoic monitoring and just let it go “what will be, will be”

Let's look at the three example entries above in a bit more detail.

In the first example the writer now realises that his angry thoughts about the other driver was about what is not "up to me" and it wasnt beneficial, it did no good, just got him upset. This entry can feed into the evening Stoic meditation where we reflect on what we have done well and less well. The writer would reflect that next time they felt the first impulse to get upset about a driver, they would remind themselves that what the driver did was not under his control and so would not get upset about it.

The second example is about anxiety and illustrates how a lot of it can be about what we can't control - so no point worrying about it. However I can control how much preparation I do, so that's where I should focus my energy. In this case doing the entry helps me change what I do, so in my evening meditation I can say "job well done".

The third example is about sadness, and this is a more mixed example. The writer does ruminate for a while, but then realises that this is pointless and is able to let it go.

I hope these examples illustrates the usefulness of the form -  have a go at using it and let me know how you get on. You can also blog about your experiences in Stoic Week at

Friday, November 21, 2014

Stoic Week Next Week - why not join in?

Next week is International Stoic Week.

Stoic Week is an annual opportunity to practise some useful elements of Stoicism in our lives, each day, for a week.  At least 10 minutes a day commitment is required. No previous knowledge or experience of Stoicism is required.

For those who weren't in on this last year, Stoicism is the ancient philosophy that was the inspiration behind CBT. Practising it is in many ways akin to practising mindfulness, and for those of you already doing that this may be a useful supplement. The focus in Stoicism is on what you can control, what you can change - and to not hit one's head against a brick wall trying to change the things you can't.
For example. if you are stuck in a traffic jam, you can't change the fact that the traffic isn't moving. You might be able to change your attitude to it. You can practise some slow breathing, maybe let the people you were meeting know you were late, plan to leave earlier or an alternative route next time.

In Stoicism, this goes further to saying that we by changing our attitudes we can feel less negative emotions.  The Stoics also say that we can aim to be a good person, this is under our control. The happiness research (and our own research on Stoicism) suggests that being a good person - for example random acts of kindness - will also make us happier.

If you are interested in taking part, then please visit and
There also a Stoic event in  London on Saturday 29th November
There are still a few places left for the London event. You can sign up for that at

You dont have to know anything about Stoicism - anyone interested in learning about some techniques to help us stay calm and be happy and able to commit to some daily practice for a week may find this useful.

Live Wisely! 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Achieving Your Potential with Positive Psychology - Tim's Tip for the Week - Try simple and effective things to increase happiness

In previous articles, I have suggested that in order to Achieve your Potential with Positive Psychology you can get into the personal development habit  and  value happiness.

Putting these two ideas together, would it be a good idea to spend the time you devote to personal development on increasing happiness.
You can find a lot of evidence-based simple exercises in Achieve Your Potential...

Here I will describe my version of one of the simplest ideas, which is also one of my favourites. It's called "Three Good Things in Life" or "Three Good Things"

Three Good Things in Life - Adapted from Martin Seligman

Each night  for one week, write down three things that went well that day.
In addition to writing three things that went well, reflect on what you did that contributed to the good thing happening, directly or indirectly.

Do not set the bar too high – the good thing doesn’t have to be that you won the Nobel Prize!
Remember that how you caused the good thing can be indirect

Some examples

1)     I went for a nice walk at lunch instead of snacking at my desk - I made a deliberate decision
2) I had a nice chat with my friend – at first I was tempted to say I didnt contribute to this, because she called me - then I realised that over the years I have done plenty to build and maintain this friendship  
3)      The sun shone today – I noticed it!

Research has shown that a significant number of people who try this for just a week are happier and less depressed at 6 month follow up. Why? It helps us focus on the positive, feel more optimistic and we may start to plan to do more of the good things. Not a bad pay-off for an exercise that takes less than 5 minutes ...

Have a wonder-full day, today and everyday


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Achieving Your Potential with Positive Psychology - Tim's Tip for the Week - Value Happiness

A good friend of mine had just started reading  Achieve your Potential with Positive Psychology  asked me a very important question

Surely there's more to life than just being happy?

Of course he is right. Having children, helping others, producing art, overcoming a personal difficulty -these might not exactly make you happy, but surely aren't they part of the good life? As I gently pointed out to my friend, when he gets to chapter 3 he will find that Positive Psychology agrees with him. Martin Seligman thinks the good life is PERMA (positive emotions, engagement , relationships, meaning and achievement). I think this a good start, and argue that PERMA needs to be informed by wisdom.  So thinking that there is more to life than happiness is no reason at all to reject Positive Psychology.

So why does Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology begin with two chapters on happiness? One reason is that there are now a number of well-researched simple techniques that we know can increase happiness.  So you can expect to increase happiness fairly quickly by applying what you learn in  the first chapters.  A second reason is that although there is more to the good life than just happiness, happiness has positive spin-offs.  The key message is

Happiness is worth it, not just for itself, but the good things that come with it.

That's right.  Being happy doesn't just feel good, it helps us be more creative, more altruistic, live longer, have better health, have better friendships - in other words, it helps with most of the other elements of the good life.  There are sound, replicated experiments which demonstrate this. One striking example is the nun's study which found that nuns who recorded positive emotions in their diaries lived on average nine years longer than those who were least happy.

My friend's confusion came about through thinking you have a choice to make - happiness or the other good things in life. The research suggests just the opposite.  Become happier and you will also tend towards naturally getting the other things too.

Of course this doesn't mean that you should just value happiness.  Positive Psychologists would recommend you try to clarify your values and take steps to satisfy them, including helping others , making the world a better place and so on.  The suprising finding, the added value of scientific research, is that if you value happiness, and start to be happier, you'll find achieving these other values is a bit easier.

So the best way to look at it is  not happiness or the good life. It's not quite even happiness as part of the good life, though that's closer to the truth. It's happiness as a part and a sound foundation for good life.

Have a wonder-full day


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Achieving Your Potential with Positive Psychology - Tim's Tip for the Week - Get into the Personal Development Habit

How many times have you read a personal development book, found it interesting, hoped it would help you and then ... well, it wasn't. Maybe you  hoped its effects would work without you doing very much. Perhaps you just put it back on your bookshelf and forgot about it.  Sound familiar?

So what can make the difference between a book being merely interesting and it being useful? The difference is all about  puttingideas into practice.

I've started to get feedback from people saying they are enjoying reading my book, find it intelligently written, logical, comprehensive - all nice comments - thank you  .... yet my goal in writing the book was also to write a book that would help people.

That's why I'm writing this post. It's to help you - a reader of Achieving your Potential with Positive Psychology - to benefit from reading the book.

My tip for this week is quite simple. It's to commit to doing ten minutes a day, every day, towards your personal development.  That's right - just ten minutes, but you have to do it every day. Why not? Do you spend that amount of time very day showering and cleaning your teeth? You probably don't think twice about devoting time to these  habits? So why not spend at least the same amount of time working on your personal development as well ?

How should you spend the ten minutes? There are no shortage of practical exercises in Achieve Your Potential ...  You could spend it on any one of them.  Have a look at my "Positive Psychology Toolkit" (pages  247-248) if you are short of ideas...   Let me know how you get on

Have a wonder-full day


Sunday, June 22, 2014

New Book - Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology

A lot has happened since my first book, Wise Therapy, was published  in 2001 - in the world at large and in our understanding of what can help us to lead flourishing lives. My new book Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychologypublished by Hodder on June 27th,  aims to present the most important of these ideas to you in a very practical and readable format.

One of the most significant developments has been the progress of Positive Psychology, the science of human well-being. At last psychology has moved from researching  how rats negotiate mazes  to developing and testing ways to help you live better. In 2001 Positive Psychology was a small and relatively little known movement; now thousands of articles have been written in peer-reviewed journals to help turn theoretical musings into evidence-based facts. One of the aims of my new book is to summarise the key findings of Positive Psychology with an emphasis on how you can put its ideas into practice.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was already recognised in  2001 as one of the most effective ways of treating psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. CBT is based on the scientific paradigm; understand the problem, work out ways to solve it, test your solution and keep improving it. By 2006 the Depression Report written by Lord Layard convinced even the UK government of CBT's effectiveness. The result was IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) which has seen the training and availability of many more CBT therapists. I now work part-time as a High Intensity CBT therapist in the NHS, treating particularly challenging cases of depression and anxiety.  Many of the things I've learnt over the years from these difficult cases is equally relevant to helping those of you not suffering from mental health problems to become more resilient. I've included the most important of these tips in an extended chapter on Resilience and CBT.

A third important advance in the last fifteen years is the progress of  new, "third wave" cognitive-behavioural therapies which emphasise mindfulness, compassion and commiting to valued actions. Mindfulness-based CBT (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Compassion-Focussed Therapy (CFT) are three such third-wave CBT therapies. I've undertaken training in all of these and regularly use them to help clients in my private practice in Central London.  These therapies are extremely relevant for those who wish to lead flourishing lives and you can find out more about them in my new book.

Whilst these three developments show how psychology has progressed in the last decade, philosophy has not stood still either. Stoic ideas, philosophical decision-making protocols and Philosophy with Children have been tested with encouraging results.   I argue in the book that whilst  Positive Psychology  can help us be wiser it can become wiser still by incorporating ideas from Practical Philosophy.  In the book I  assess Positive Psychology in the light of philosophical ideas and  summarise  philosophical ideas to can help us become wiser.

So why should you depart with your hard-earned £10.99 (Pre-publication price on amazon only £7.69 at the time of writing, or only £4.39 on Kindle) to buy Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology?

Here are my top 10 reasons...

10 Questions Answered in  Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology.

1.  Why happiness  is not just a "nice to have"; the considerable positive spin-offs of feeling good explained.
2.  Which practical exercises are most likely to  increase happiness and well-being?
3.  How to determine which values are most important for your well-being
4. How to identify and use your personal strengths and talents
5. How to reach your goals and accomplish more
6.  How to lose yourself in the moment and find more flow.
7.  How to find more meaning and purpose in your life
8. How to have more satisfying relationships
9. How to become more resilent
10.  How the pursuit of wisdom can strengthen Positive Psychology.

I hope you find the book useful. Let me know how you find it in the comments below.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Read this if you can resist everything, except temptation

One of the greatest mysteries is why we human beings carry on doing things we know don't do us any good and don't do quite simple things that we know will do us good.

Meditation, exercise, eating more vegetables and fruits,  relaxation exercises, yoga ... the list goes on of things that we know we should do but don't. At least not regularly, not after our new years resolution resolve has ended ...

The key question is "What can we do to help us do these helpful things more regularly?"

I met up over a civilised dinner with some old friends and fellow psychologists to discuss this very matter.  A number of good ideas surfaced in the conversation (sorry David and Antonia, I can't remember who to credit with each one).  I'll list them in no particular order....

1) Think about the pros and cons. You need to be convinced of the rationale behind the practice. For example, its not enough just to vaguely be aware that exercise is good. Its much more convincing if you remember that not exercising increases your risk of illness, makes you put on weight.
2) Be specific. Its even better if you know the specifics about the pros and cons of the practice you are thinking of taking up. For example, its worth know given your own condition, how much exercises reduces your risk of which illnesses, and how much weight you will put on if you do not exercise
3) Start Small. It's helpful to just make a start doing it. If you start with 5 minutes of exercises, you are more likely to do 15 minutes than if you imagine you have to do the whole 15 minutes.
4) Tell other people  If you inform others of your intentions you are more likely to stick to it - you dont want to have to lie or admit failure
5) Set yourself  a SMART goal.  For example, instead of saying "I will do exercise" say "In the next week I will do at least 5 minutes on my rowing machine every day"
6) Make them enjoyable.  If there is a way to make it fun, then do so. For example, my rowing machine ritual is to the beat of music from my favourite playlist.
7)Make it part of your routine.  For example, do your exercise just after you get up, and do it every day
8) Don't rationalise. Watch out for rationalisations such as "Oh I'll let myself off because I feel a bit tired" - because you may well make the same rationalisation the next day and the day after.
9) Be compassionate towards yourself.  At the same time, recognise that progress might be slow. Don't expect exercise to be easy if you haven't done much or a while, or to be an expert meditator the first time you try.

We nodded agreement on these points, and then the evening took an interesting turn. I mentioned that I had put on a few pounds over Christmas and whilst I was quite successful in my exercise regime was less consistent in giving up  chocolate.  At this point the waiter handed us the dessert menu. My eyes immediately leapt to the 2 tempting chocolate-based items - truffles with walnuts or dark chocolate mousse.  Both extremely tempting and all this talk of chocolate had made them more rather than less attractive. "Which do you think is  the least unhealthy?", I asked my friends, hopefully.  We all knew that if I was serious about my losing weight I should forego dessert.  But at that moment the rationalisation "Its a special occasion" had a good chance of winning, when  David asked the ingenious question

              "Imagine it's tomorrow, what choice would you wish you had made?"

Immediately the answer was clear - the next day I would wish I had eaten neither. I decided to have a caffe latte instead. The waiter however was not on board with my plans. "I'm afraid the machine is broken. Would you like something else instead?" My resolve wavered for a moment.  A rationalisation entered my head . Perhaps  tonight my diet was just not meant to happen ... However I recalled the perspective of tomorrow, and stuck to my abstinence. "A filter coffee with warm milk please, then.", I replied, to the surprise of everyone, not least me.

In this case, the proof of the pudding was definitely in the not eating.  I hope that these 10 tips can help you exercise, meditate, stick to a diet or do whatever you know will help you live in your valued direction.