Cognitive behavioural therapies


What is cognitive behavioural therapy?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that helps you to become aware of your negative thoughts so that you can view difficult situations more clearly and adapt to the way that you respond and behave. CBT is usually used to treat anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What are the different types of cognitive behavioural therapies?

CBT uses a range of techniques and approaches that addresses your thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The different types of therapeutic approaches used in CBT include:

How does cognitive behavioural therapy work?

CBT aims to help you breakdown your problems into smaller parts and to change your perspective to one that is more positive. Changing negative thinking patterns will improve the way that you feel. CBT focuses on your current problems as opposed to past problems. It looks to improve your mental wellbeing on a daily basis.

Which mental health conditions can CBT help?

As well as anxiety and depression, CBT can help with the following conditions:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Eating disorders 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia

What can be expected with CBT?

CBT can be done as a one-to-one session with a psychotherapist, or as a group session with your family members. During your first therapy session, the therapist will gather information about you and find out what you are looking to work on. They might also decide whether it would be beneficial for you to be taking medication alongside CBT.

During CBT your therapist will encourage you to talk about your thoughts, feelings and actions, and will focus on specific problems using a goal-oriented approach. They will help you to break down your problems into different parts and work out if your thoughts are unrealistic or unhelpful and the effect that they have on you. 

After working out what you can change, your therapist will ask you to implement these steps into your daily life and discuss how you got on during the next session that you have together. The therapy sessions will give you the tools that you need for addressing any daily situation that leaves you feeling anxious.

The therapy is usually short-term and patients might require anywhere between 5-20 sessions.

How can I have CBT?

You can have CBT on the NHS. You can speak to your GP and ask for them to refer you. 

If you can afford to pay for it, you can have private CBT sessions. The cost of private sessions can range from £40 to £100 per appointment. 

The British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies keeps a register of all of the accredited therapists in the UK.