Understanding Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

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What is CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy)?

CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) is a talking therapy that helps you to manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It aims to reduce symptoms for various mental health conditions, primarily depression and anxiety. CBT focuses on challenging and changing beliefs and attitudes, and their associated behaviours in order to improve emotional regulation.

How does CBT work?


Therapists target specific problems and help to offer personal coping strategies; it distinguishes its self from psychoanalytic approaches where the therapist looks for unconscious meaning behind behaviours to formulate a diagnosis, or humanistic psychotherapies, which are more focused on the whole person.  The humanistic and psychoanalytic teachings would argue that by only dealing with certain symptoms you will not get to the root cause of personal distress and therefore CBT is not sufficiently thorough.

However review studies show that CBT alone can be as effective for treating depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder as well as panic, psychosis, schizophrenia and insomnia.

How many CBT sessions do I need?


In practice you will usually have a session with a therapist once a week or fortnight  with the course of treatment lasting for between six and 20 sessions and each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes.

What is CBT therapy like?


Your therapist will encourage you to break down your problems into the separate parts such as thoughts, physical feelings and actions, and help you to work out how to change these unhelpful thoughts and behaviours. 

In each session you will be asked to practice the changes in your daily life and then discuss how you get on at your next meeting come up with the eventually being to apply the skills you have learnt during treatment to your daily life.

Is CBT right for me?

When starting any kind of therapy it can be difficult to know which type of therapy is right for you. People often choose CBT when they have certain symptoms of anxiety or depression that they find are getting in the way of everyday life. CBT can be very helpful in reducing these symptoms and helping people to get back to regular functioning in the daily life. However it is worth being mindful of the fact that CBT doesn’t always look at the underlying reasons that these symptoms have arisen from.

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