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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you manage your problems by observing and changing the ways you think and behave and is the recommended approach to treat common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

How CBT works

CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts.

In CBT, problems are broken down into 5 main areas:

  • situations
  • thoughts
  • emotions
  • physical feelings
  • actions (behaviours)

CBT is based on the concept of these 5 areas being interconnected and affecting each other and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.

You will learn 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 is also sometimes used to support people with long-term health conditions. Whilst CBT cannot cure the physical symptoms of these conditions, it can help people cope better with their symptoms.

Pros and cons of CBT

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be effective in treating common mental health problems, but it may not be successful or suitable for everyone.

Some of the advantages of CBT include:
  • it may be helpful in cases where medicine alone has not worked
  • it can be completed in a relatively short period of time compared with other talking therapies
  • the highly structured nature of CBT means it can be provided in different formats, including in groups, online, self-help books and apps
  • it teaches you useful and practical strategies that can be used in everyday life, even after the treatment has finished
Some of the disadvantages of CBT to consider include:
  • you need to commit yourself to the process to get the most from it – a therapist can help and advise you, but they need your co-operation and regular practice of CBT skills is required in order to gain benefits, which can take up a lot of your time
  • it may not be suitable for people with more complex mental health needs or learning difficulties, as it requires structured sessions
  • it involves confronting your emotions and anxieties – you may experience initial periods where you’re anxious or emotionally uncomfortable
  • it focuses on the person’s capacity to change themselves (their thoughts, feelings and behaviours) – this does not address any wider problems in systems or families that often have a significant impact on someone’s health and wellbeing and it does not address the possible underlying causes of mental health conditions, such as an unhappy childhood

How we deliver CBT

If you have no previous experience of CBT we may suggest you attend one of our Psychoeducational Courses or suggest you complete an Online CBT program as a first step.

We also offer CBT in the form of guided self-help – this is a brief one-to-one treatment where you would work closely with one of our Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP). Much like a coach, your PWP will initially help you to understand your difficulties before guiding you and helping motivate you towards specific goals, using different CBT-based interventions.

Guided self-help can support people with a multitude of mild to moderate mental health difficulties, including: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, specific phobias, mild OCD and sleeping difficulties

The main aim of guided self-help is to support you in learning how to make positive changes to your behaviour and thinking in order to feel better.

You may also be offered more intensive one to one treatment which is delivered over a longer period. Within this you will collaborate with a therapist to identify and understand how your beliefs about yourself and the world influence your current situation. This insight will allow you to effectively challenge your thoughts and behaviours.

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