What is cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)?
CBT is structured, goal-focused and time-limited approach with client and therapist working together to identify and understand problems in the here and now, in terms of the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behavior. short-term personalized goals are identified jointly by client and therapist, and strategies are continually monitored and evaluated.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is based on scientific psychological principles and has been recommended as the psychological treatment of choice for various anxiety problems and depression.
CBT focuses on the here and now to help you gain an understanding of your problems and what is maintaining them. It is based on the premise that the way we feel is strongly influenced by our behavior and our thoughts. For example, if you believe that when your heart rate speeds up, it is evidence that you are going to have a heart attack, then you are more likely to panic than somebody who believes it is just a normal change to your heart rhythm. You may then avoid situations in which you panic and use other unhelpful behavior such as monitoring their body for changes in their heart rate or take deep breathes, which will help to reinforce the negative cycle that develops.
The aim of CBT is to break this cycle by teaching people to recognize their unhelpful thoughts and beliefs and to develop more balanced and realistic ones (not positive thinking) and to modify any unhelpful behavior that are helping to keep the cycle going.
What happens during treatment?
Sessions typically take place on a 1 to 2 weekly basis and last for approximately 50 minutes and are bound by professional guidelines (BABCP) and confidentiality. Treatment typically lasts between 6-20 sessions however, it is important to remember that people get better in their own time and you may need less or more than this.
At a consultation
At this session, you and your therapist will work together to develop a shared understanding of the problem. This is usually to identify how your thoughts, ideas, feelings, attitudes, and behavior affect your day-to-day life. This information helps to agree a treatment plan, identify goals to achieve and provide an estimate of the number of sessions required to treat your problem.
In therapy the therapist and the client work together, collaboratively, to change the patterns of thinking and behavior, which are maintaining the problem. This will be using common CBT skills to identify and challenge irrational beliefs, replace them with alternative ones, gradual exposure to situations in which you have difficulty, along with other skills such as assertiveness training and problem solving. The main aim of CBT is to teach you to become your own therapist to enable you to deal with and overcome your problems.
A key part of the treatment is the homework tasks you will chose with your therapist. These may include reading material or specific tasks, such as keeping a diary of your thoughts which occur when you become affected by your problem. Other homework may involve trying out different ways of coping which you have learned during therapy. The homework tasks will give you the opportunity to test out and practice techniques you have learned, or to expose yourself gradually to feared situations and are key to you making progress in treatment.