What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is commonly referred to as CBT. It is a talking therapy which focuses on your experience of difficulties in the here and now. It has a very strong evidence base for treating anxiety and depression but can be useful for a wide range of other physical and mental health problems. CBT is a short-term focussed therapy which can improve depression and anxiety in 6-10 sessions.
CBT focuses on the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviours. For example, a common anxiety is often around public speaking; thoughts experienced when being asked to do a presentation might include ("everyone will see how nervous I am"), which might lead to feelings of anxiety/panic; which might impact what you notice in your body (hot, sweaty, heart racing, difficulty swallowing etc.), and what you do (avoid, escape, over rehearse, try to hide symptoms of anxiety). The interconnected nature of these components of distress can keep people trapped in a vicious cycle.
The main techniques of CBT include learning: how to recognise and respond in different ways to problematic thinking styles, how to change behavioural patterns and learn to respond in more helpful ways, and how to manage the physiological aspects of distress.
Some of the benefits of CBT include:
- Learning to be more aware of the triggers for your distress, as well as useful and practical strategies to manage distress which you can use throughout your life.
- It is pragmatic and structured. You will focus on specific problems you are encountering and how to manage them.
- It is collaborative. I won't tell you what to do, but will work with you to try out different ways of managing your difficulties.
- It will be focused on making changes to how you live your life now. Whilst we will develop an understanding of how your past has influenced your current experiences, CBT focuses on improving how you feel in the current moment rather than resolving difficulties from the past.