Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a very specific form of therapy that can be used to treat many types of mental health problems. Research shows that it is effective for a wide range of disorders, from anxiety to depression to phobias.
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
CBT is a combination of two schools of psychology: behavioural psychology and cognitive psychology. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety disorders (such as post traumatic stress disorder and OCD), eating disorders, phobias and depression.
CBT works on the premise that our thoughts affect our behaviours and feelings, and that it is our thoughts that make us feel bad rather than our life circumstances or situations.
Our skilled CBT practitioner will have a general chat with you about your feelings and particular problems at the first session. You will then decide together if CBT will work in your situation and if your are both a good fit for each other.
Your therapist will help you to break your problems down into smaller areas so that you can figure out what the areas of concern are They may then write down your feelings, thoughts and behaviours on a whiteboard or notepad so that you can clearly see your own patterns in these areas. You will then be asked to consider how your thoughts and feelings could be having an impact on your life.
Imagine this very simplistic example; If someone ignores you in the street, you might automatically think that it means they hate you. The therapist will help you to challenge thoughts like this and to consider other angles. Because our thoughts, which fuel our emotional and behavioural responses, are not always based in fact.
Most CBT involves written work. So you'll probably be asked to keep a diary so that you can identify your common patterns, emotions and actions and how they influence your life and whether they are positive or negative.
You may also be asked to do extra reading and CBT practice at home. If you have a phobia, you may be asked to gradually expose yourself to your fear while using the CBT techniques you have learned.
Is CBT for me?
CBT does involve work on your part, so if you can't do some work on your own time or are not motivated to do so, CBT will not be a good fit for you. On the other hand, if you find CBT helpful you will have learnt self-awareness and strategies that you can use throughout your lifetime.