What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on helping you understand how your thoughts affect the way you feel and act. And in turn, how your behaviour affects your thoughts and feelings.
In this therapeutic approach, the client and the therapist work together to change any unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviours.
How does CBT work?
CBT is a highly structured, goal-orientated approach to therapy, and it tends to focus on current difficulties, rather than explore the historical origins of them.
CBT has a very wide evidence base and is one of the most popular therapeutic approaches.
CBT is an effective intervention for anxiety disorders, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and eating disorders. It is also often helpful for sleep difficulties, anger management and physical symptoms which don’t have a medical diagnosis.
CBT therapy - what can I expect?
- 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
Frequently asked questions
You are likely to be offered CBT if you are suffering from specific symptoms that we believe this approach is likely to help with. Very often we will recommend CBT as a first therapy approach for those who haven’t had therapy before and are looking for symptom relief.
You will be offered CBT if the clinician carrying out your initial assessment believes that an approach that focuses mainly on your symptoms – rather than exploring earlier experiences and deeper patterns – will be sufficient in treating your difficulties.
In some cases, we may start by offering CBT to help someone with symptom relief and then move on to a schema therapy approach to delve deeper as a later point in their therapy journey.
CBT is typically a short-term therapy that lasts anywhere between 12 – 24 sessions, depending on the nature and severity of your difficulties.