Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on helping individuals understand how their thinking about a situation affects the way they feel and act. In turn it considers how behaviour can affect thoughts and feelings. In this therapeutic approach, the client and the therapist work together to change the client’s behaviours, or their thinking patterns or both. CBT has a very wide evidence base and is one of the most popular therapeutic approaches.
CBT is an effective intervention for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and eating disorders. It is also often helpful for sleep difficulties, physical symptoms without a medical diagnosis and anger management.
CBT is pragmatic, highly structured, tends to focus on current difficulties rather than explore the historical origins of them and relies on a collaborative therapeutic relationship between therapist and client.
What can I expect if I receive cognitive-behavioural therapy
- In CBT you will work together with your therapist to break down your difficulties into separate parts, the situation, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions.
- Your therapist will ask you to keep a diary or write down your thoughts and behaviour patterns.
- You and your therapist will analyse your thoughts, feelings and behaviours to work out if they are unrealistic or unhelpful and to determine the effect they have on each other and on you.
- After working out what you can change, your therapist will ask you to practice these changes in your everyday life. You will be asked to do homework between sessions.
- Confronting fears and anxieties can be very challenging so you and your therapist will need to work out together what pace feels comfortable for you. Your therapist will keep checking out in the sessions how comfortable you are with the progress you are making.
- Sometimes exposure sessions can be scheduled if you need help with a particular anxiety or phobia and these can take place outside of the clinic.
- The therapeutic relationship in CBT is one in which the therapist takes a psycho-educational approach and facilitates change through being a teacher and a coach.