Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Information and Treatment


Overview: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can be useful in treating several mental health conditions. The therapy has the aim of changing the way someone thinks and behaves – in a way that removes negative thoughts and emotions. CBT is commonly used in anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder among other conditions. CBT can’t aid the physical symptoms of these conditions, but can reduce the psychological symptoms.




How does it work: The practice of CBT works around the foundation that thoughts, feelings and actions are interconnected. When thoughts become negative, you can easily feel down or low, which will often lead you to doing very little and wanting to withdraw from the world. This is a vicious and harmful cycle to be in, with mental health conditions exacerbating as a result of the cycle.


CBT therefore will try and stop this cycle. The therapy will aim to help the individual deal with problems in their life by breaking them down into minor parts. A therapist will instruct the individual of ways to change patterns in their behaviour which can lead to improvements in how you feel. CBT deals with the present and current issues, as opposed to dealing with past issues.


What Happens: Those suffering from a mental health condition will often be referred to an organisation that provides CBT therapy – they will be aligned with the NHS. They will then contact you to arrange a time and a place to meet with a therapist. This will normally be in a nearby town or clinic. Waiting times vary hugely, depending on demand in your area.


A typical course of treatment can last anywhere from five to twenty sessions, with each individual session normally lasting half an hour. You will normally see your therapist either weekly or fortnightly. CBT is highly structured, and your therapist will attempt to help you with your thoughts, physical feelings and actions.


By working together, the intention is that you and your therapist will identify unhelpful or harmful thoughts that go through your mind and is effecting you. The intention then is to come up with ways of combatting these issues and working out ways to change these behaviours. You will need to implement these changes in your day-to-day life to get the most out of CBT. They aren’t usually demanding changes, and CBT does have a strong success rate. The ultimate aim is to get you to use the skills and behaviour changes that you will have learnt in your everyday life – and stop your problems from having a negative impact on your life.



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What is Good About CBT?: CBT has a proven track record of helping many people tackle their mental health problems. One of the advantages of CBT is that it is generally a shorter treatment compared to several other treatments. It is highly structured too. CBT will often work well alongside medication too, with the combination often leading to a positive improvement in your thoughts and feelings. However, CBT does need to be committed too, a half hearted effort will mean you won’t get the most out of treatment. As with any therapy, there are limitations as to how effective CBT is.


What if CBT doesn’t work?: Return to the Get Going page below and click on the mental health condition that you are looking for information on. Then, scroll to ‘Treatment’, and the information will be included.