What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.
CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle. CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You're shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.
Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis.
CBT has been shown to be an effective way of treating a number of different mental health conditions.
In addition to depression or anxiety disorders, CBT can also help people with:
- bipolar disorder
- borderline personality disorder
- eating disorders – such as anorexia and bulimia
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- sleep problems – such as insomnia
- problems related to alcohol misuse
CBT is also sometimes used to treat people with long-term health conditions, such as:
Although CBT cannot cure the physical symptoms of these conditions, it can help people cope better with their symptoms.
If CBT is recommended, you'll usually have a session with a therapist once a week or once every 2 weeks.
The course of treatment usually lasts for between 5 and 20 sessions, with each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes.
During the sessions, you'll work with your therapist to break down your problems into their separate parts, such as your thoughts, physical feelings and actions.
You and your therapist will analyse these areas to work out if they're unrealistic or unhelpful, and to determine the effect they have on each other and on you.
Your therapist will then be able to help you work out how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.
After working out what you can change, your therapist will ask you to practise these changes in your daily life and you'll discuss how you got on during the next session.
The eventual aim of therapy is to teach you to apply the skills you have learnt during treatment to your daily life.
This should help you manage your problems and stop them having a negative impact on your life, even after your course of treatment finishes.
You can get psychological therapies, including CBT, on the NHS. You can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) without a referral from a GP.
If you work in health and social care across North West London, colleagues can access CBT through our team by getting in touch with our team: