Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)


CBT is a psychological therapy with a good evidence-base. Research has shown that it is effective in treating a wide range of emotional and physical health conditions in adults. CBT is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.

NICE recommends CBT in treating the following conditions:

  • anxiety disorders (including panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • depression
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • bipolar disorder

There is also good evidence that CBT is helpful in treating other conditions, including:

  • chronic fatigue
  • chronic pain
  • physical symptoms without a medical diagnosis
  • sleep difficulties

CBT looks at the relationships between how we feel, our thoughts (cognitions), our body and how we respond or act (behaviour). Most clients come to CBT struggling with how they feel; people commonly feel low or depressed or anxious. In CBT, we look at how our thoughts and our responding may be contributing to these difficult feelings. Once we understand this, we can start working on changing our thinking or responding or both. CBT is mainly focussed on the here and now, but past experiences may be discussed to enable you to understand the context of some of your current difficulties, helping you to make sense of your problems and empowering you to change. The number of CBT sessions you need depends on the difficulty you need help with. Often this will be between six and 20 weekly sessions lasting 50 minutes each.

In recent years CBT has expanded its focus to include a so-called ‘third wave’ of psychotherapies. These approaches seek to blend traditional CBT principles with concepts new to behavioural psychotherapies such as mindfulness, acceptance and compassion. Our therapists have undertaken training in third wave psychotherapies including: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Compassion-Focused Psychotherapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). If we think you would benefit from the inclusion of a third wave approach, we will discuss this with you. Typically this will involve developing skills aimed at increasing awareness of your inner processes as well increasing the quality and quantity of activity that provides you with meaning in your life.

CBT is a collaborative therapy and your therapist will help you decide what difficulties you want to work on in order to help you improve your situation. Together, you will set goals for you to achieve. CBT requires you to work hard during sessions and tasks will also be set for you to work on between therapy sessions, so you can go away and practice a new way of thinking or behaving in certain situations. We will regularly review your progress and see if we need to make any adjustments to the therapy. Towards the end of your sessions, we will explore how you can continue using CBT techniques in your day to day life, to stay well and maintain the gains you have made.

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