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What is CBT?

Image by Jacek Dylag

1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year, and 1 in 6 experiences this at any given time.  

(The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)  

Many of us will experience psychological and coping difficulties when under pressure in our lives. CBT is a counselling and therapy approach that is effective in the assessment and treatment of a wide range of psychological problems affecting a person’s mental health and coping ability. It is a well-researched and effective approach supported by NHS organisations, including the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NIHCE) whose guidelines recommend CBT as a first treatment of choice for treating psychological and mental health conditions.

CBT focuses on how thoughts influence emotions, behaviour and physical symptoms. It is aimed at addressing issues causing emotional distress to bring about positive change in life. A full assessment is carried out initially to determine the best treatment approach to improve and develop coping skills and strategies.

Common Questions

Are there any people/problems CBT can’t help?

CBT can help with most problems, across cultural groups, age ranges and it has the ability to help individuals’, couples and families.  A wide range of problems and presentations of varying intensity and severity can be treated using an extensive range of interventions to help get to the heart of the problem and overcome it.

What is cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), exactly?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a therapy based on changing problematic behaviours and thinking styles, often resulting in a reduction in stress, distress and symptoms. It is problem based solution focused and tailored to the individual’s personal needs.

Does CBT always work, am I guaranteed a ‘fix’ to my problems?

Problems will always come up as you move through life - there is no fix that totally stops problems occurring; that is a guarantee nobody can give. However, CBT provides you with the tools and confidence you need to successfully navigate life’s problems in order to maintain control of your reactions and responses. CBT requires commitment and a close working relationship with your therapist to move forward and experience success in therapy. The change process can be a difficult journey to negotiate with setbacks occurring from time to time, but persistence to the finish-line pays off.

I’ve had a therapist in the past and I don’t think it changed much for me; how is this different?

Sometimes being motivated to engage in therapy can be difficult as it’s not always easy to face our problems head on. The quality of the relationship with your counsellor, a desire to overcome what you are facing, the session content and direction can all influence the outcome for you as an individual. CBT is based around us working together and the degree of change you want to see is down to you. The goals you set and how determined you are to beat whatever problems you are facing will determine your success and as your therapist, I am here to support you, help you and provide guidance with regards to the options available.

Why should I choose CBT over other types of help out there (e.g. medications, hypnotherapy, meditation etc)?

CBT is well-researched and has been shown to be the most successful counselling approaches available. Hence it is supported by the NHS and government guidelines. CBT-focused research demonstrates successful outcomes for clients, above and beyond other forms of therapy with lasting effects.

In addition to this, CBT can help you overcome obstacles that may be preventing you from being successful in life. These obstacles may be tackling issues such as conflict in relationships, being assertive, public speaking, building self-confidence, managing difficult emotions, overcoming grief and crisis etc.

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