CBT Therapy North West
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

What Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) aims to help you to change the way that you think, feel and behave. It is a form of psychotherapy which is short term and has been shown to be effective in helping both adults and children overcome a range of difficulties (including depression and anxiety). CBT basis itself on the understanding that our emotional difficulties and behaviours are as a result of our 'cognitions' (i.e. our thoughts, beliefs, interpretations) about the situation. Therefore, it is not the situation itself which results in difficult feelings and behaviours; it depends upon the way we interpret the situation. CBT is the recommended first line treatment for a number of conditions, as outlined by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

What Types Of Problems Can Be Improved With Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy (CBT)?

The list of psychological problems that respond to Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy (CBT) is extensive. This is because most of these difficulties are rooted in anxiety, which is very amenable to the CBT approach.

Common difficulties which can be improved with Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic
  • Phobias
  • Stress
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Self harming behaviours
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger difficulties

How long does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) take?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is generally a short-term treatment and we usually recommend between 6-12 sessions, although this depends on what issues you bring to the sessions. Therapy sessions last for 55 minutes and initially, are on a weekly basis. Sessions are gradually reduced to fortnightly, three weekly and so on as you start to address and deal with your problems more effectively.

What is likely to happen during a course of cognitive behavioural therapy?

To begin with your Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist will go through the history of your problem and how it is making you are feel. Working in partnership with you your therapist will help you to identify the problem areas which you would like to work on and will negotiate treatment goals with you.

Your therapist helps you to recognise unhelpful thoughts and patterns of thinking and behaving which may be maintaining your psychological difficulties. Most people are unaware that irrational thoughts may be creating difficult emotions, however just because we think or believe something, does not always mean it is true.

In between sessions, you will have 'homework', assignments. These are sometimes in the form of a diary, to collect information about how you are reacting and feeling in certain situations. At other times 'homework', will focus on making changes in thinking and behaving. Most of the skills you will learn in therapy are transferable to many situations so that they help you to build general all round confidence in day to day life, as well as the management of a particular problem.

Throughout the course of therapy, you will gain understanding of your situation, begin to notice and challenge irrational thinking and learn how to manage your problems to allow for an improvement in the quality of your life.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is based on the principle that certain ways of thinking can trigger, or fuel, certain health problems. For example, anxiety, depression, phobias, etc, but there are others, including physical problems. Our cognitive processes are our thoughts which include our ideas, mental images, beliefs and attitudes. In Cognitive Therapy the therapist helps you to understand your current thought patterns, in particular, to identify any harmful, unhelpful, and false ideas or thoughts which you have that can trigger your health problem, or make it worse. The aim is then to change your ways of thinking to avoid these ideas and to help your thought patterns to be more realistic and helpful.

Behavioural therapy

The aim of behaviour therapy to change any behaviours that are harmful or not helpful. Various techniques are used. For example, a common unhelpful behaviour is to avoid situations that can make you anxious. In some people with phobias the avoidance can become extreme and affect day-to-day life. In this situation a type of behavioural therapy called exposure therapy may be used. This involves gradual exposure to feared situations. The therapist will teach you how to control anxiety and to cope when you face up to the feared situations. For example, by using deep breathing and other techniques.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

This is a combination of cognitive and behavioural therapies. They are often combined because how we behave often reflects how we think about certain things or situations. The emphasis on cognitive or behavioural aspects of therapy can vary, depending on the condition being treated. For example, there is often more emphasis on behavioural therapy when treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - where repetitive compulsive actions are a main problem. Alternatively the emphasis may be on cognitive therapy when treating depression.

How Well Does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Work?

CBT has been shown in clinical trials to help ease symptoms of various health problems. For example, research studies have shown that a course of CBT is just as likely to be effective as medication in treating depression and certain anxiety disorders. There may be long-term benefits of CBT, as the techniques to combat these problems are skills for you to draw upon to help keep symptoms away. So, for example, depression or anxiety is less likely to recur in the future.

The Difference Between Cognitive Behavioural Therapy And Other Talking Therapies

CBT is just one type of psychotherapy (talking treatment). CBT tends to deal with the here and now - how your current thoughts and behaviours are affecting you now. It recognises that events in your past have shaped the way that you currently think and behave. In particular, thought patterns and behaviours learned in childhood, However, CBT does not dwell on the past; it aims to find solutions to how to change your current thoughts and behaviours to enable you to function better now and in the future.

CBT is also different to counselling, which is meant to be non-directive, empathetic and supportive. Although empathy and support is also encompassed within CBT, the therapy has a structure, is problem-focused and practical. At the heart of CBT is a collaborative approach where the therapist and client work together in partnership.

Contact us if you would like to find out more about the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy services that we offer