Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

What is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a psychological talking therapy that helps people look at how they are thinking about themselves, the world and other people (the cognitive bit), and how what they do (the behavioural bit) affects how they are feeling. CBT does not ignore early childhood experiences but it is more concerned with the here and now.

An important part of CBT is to try and solve problems and learn self-help to maintain improvement after therapy has finished.

How will I know if CBT is helping and I am getting better?

You and your therapist will work together to identify goals at the beginning of therapy. By doing this you can see if you are feeling less depressed, anxious or frightened. It’s important that you give feedback on how you are getting on, to help identify what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Alternatives to CBT

CBT is an evidence based treatment that is explicitly recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of many conditions. However, there may be other psychological therapies that may be effective and you should discuss these with your referrer or assessor.

Risks

As with many other therapies and treatments, CBT is not without the possibility of risk and you may experience a slight worsening of your condition as you begin to address some difficult issues. There is, however, a very good support network in place to help you deal with these difficulties if and when they arise and your therapist will discuss this with you.

How does CBT work?

CBT breaks problems down into situations, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and actions. All these areas can be connected. For example, how you think about something can make you behave in a certain way and how you feel emotionally can affect the way your body reacts or the way you think about yourself, the world, the future, etc.

Which problems can CBT help with?

CBT has been scientifically tested for over 20 years and has been proven to be highly effective. It can be used to treat a number of psychological issues including:

  • depression
  • anxiety disorders
  • panic
  • social phobia
  • post traumatic stress disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • bipolar disorder
  • insomnia
  • psychosis/schizophrenia
  • eating problems
  • sexual and relationship problems


Real Life Experience

If you'd like to share your experience of CBT, please email tewv.vrc@nhs.net for further information.