What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?


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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.


CBT is a structured talking therapy commonly used to treat anxiety and depression but it can be used effectively for other difficulties. CBT cannot remove your problems, but it can help you deal with them in a more manageable way. It is based on the understanding that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions (behaviours) are interconnected, and can trap you in a vicious cycle.


CBT aims to help you crack this cycle by breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and showing you how to change negative or damaging patterns to improve the way you feel.


Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT mostly deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis.


CBT can be offered in individual sessions with a therapist, or as part of a group. The number of CBT sessions you need depends on the difficulty you need help with. You and your therapist will discuss your specific difficulties and set goals for you to achieve.


At the start of your session, the therapist will ask you about the problems you want to work on and then plan goals to help you overcome these.


CBT is available face-to-face in a wide range of settings. It is sometimes provided over the telephone, and it is also available via an audio-visual link (like Skype) by our partner organisation ‘Big White Wall’: this way of delivering CBT has made it more accessible to people with busy lives, and has also reduced delays in getting help.


Sessions will normally be weekly, and will last around 50 minutes and will focus on talking about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. With your therapist you agree on worksheets or activities for you to complete in your own time in-between sessions. It is important to work on these for the therapy to work for you.  Your therapist will be able to advise you on how to continue using CBT techniques in your daily life after your treatment ends.


At the start of each session, your therapist will ask you to complete a questionnaire that will help them track your progress and will be able to offer more personalised guidance.


CBT can help you

•     Deal with depression or low mood

•     Deal with panic attacks and anxiety issues

•     Deal with anger problems

•     Deal with sleep issues, such as insomnia

•     Cope with loss

•     Grow in confidence and self-belief

•     Manage obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

•     Manage problems related to alcohol misuse

•     Manage eating problems, such as anorexia and bulimia

•     Overcome phobias — such as social situations or animals or being in confined spaces

•     Understand yourself and your feelings better