Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is based on the idea that our thoughts and beliefs drive our emotions and behaviour. For this reason, the goal of CBT is for the therapist and client to work together to find ways of reacting differently to thoughts and feelings (for example by challenging negative thoughts).

Additionally, it also aims to bring about changes in behaviour to help clients feel better. It is a structured approach which is usually aimed at a particular problem. For the most part, the intervention is fairly brief, and can take between 6-20 sessions to complete.

Generally, CBT is the first line psychological treatment for anxiety and depression in many NHS services.  Above all, this is because it has a significantly strong evidence base to support its effectiveness. Moreover, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT for postnatal depression, anxiety, OCD, managing long-term illnesses and post-traumatic stress.

In essence, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a present-focussed, active, and collaborative treatment. For example, it may touch on what the client learned at earlier stages of life. Such as strategies that they learned to use in order to cope with life’s challenges.

However, the therapy mainly focuses on the current patterns that are maintaining the client’s difficulties. For instance, therapy tasks may include monitoring thoughts and behaviours. Furthermore, additional tasks may include taking part in behavioural experiments in order to reduce problematic behaviours.

Most importantly, the therapist helps the client become their own agent of change. They do this by guiding them to help get their actions in line with their broader goals and values of life. Finally, at the end of treatment, the focus will be on how to ensure that improvements are maintained.