What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that combines cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy. It focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life – your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. It then looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

CBT tends to be short, usually attending attending a session once a week, each session lasting an hour and then moving to fortnightly. Together with the therapist you will explore what your problems are and develop a plan for tackling them. You will learn a set of principles that you can apply whenever you need to. You may find them useful long after you have left therapy.

CBT may focus on what is going on in the present rather than the past. However, the therapy may also look at your past and how your past experiences impact on how you interpret the world now.

What type of problems can CBT help with?

CBT can be an effective therapy for a number of problems including:

  • anger management
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • drug or alcohol problems
  • eating problems
  • general health problems
  • habits, such as facial tics
  • mood swings
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • phobias
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • sexual and relationship problems
  • sleep problems including insomnia

CBT does not claim to be able to cure all of the problems listed. For example, it does not claim to be able to cure chronic pain or disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome. Rather, CBT might help someone with arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome, to find new ways of coping while living with those disorders.

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