CBT - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
is a treatment approach to help people experiencing a wide range
of mental health problems. The basis of CBT is that what people
think affects how they feel and also how they behave. During times
of mental distress the way the person sees and judges themselves
and the things that happens to them alters. This can worsen how
the person feels and causes them to act in ways that prolongs their
distress. CBT practitioners work jointly with the client to help
them identify and change unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviour.
has been considerable research which demonstrates that CBT is effective
in treating a wide range of problems and psychiatric disorders,
including: Depression; Adjustment Disorders, PTSD; Phobias; General
Anxiety Disorders; Panic Disorders; Eating Disorders; Sexual Dysfunction;
Substance Abuse; and Pain Disorders. It is effective with people
of different ages, including with children, although, as with any
therapy, the approach has to be adjusted to take into account factors
such as age and intellectual level.
does it work?
is a collaborative approach between therapist and client. Together,
they identify the precise problems or symptoms that are causing
difficulties, and agree what the goals of the therapy will be. The
therapist then helps the client to identify how negative thinking
patterns are affecting feelings and behaviour, and also how some
behaviour such as avoidance, may be prolonging their symptoms. This
process is called “psych-education”. It may involve
the client keeping diaries of what they think, feel and do, to help
understand how this all works.
client and therapist have a clear understanding of the problems,
the goals of therapy are broken down into smaller manageable stages,
and the client is set “homework” tasks. The exact nature
of these tasks varies, with each client’s therapy being very
much individually tailored to their particular needs. It can include
practising going into situations which make them anxious while using
anxiety management techniques that have been learned in therapy
sessions. In treating PTSD, it can involve repeated exposure to
reminders of a traumatic event, such as through writing about it
or going back to where it happened. In the treatment of Depression,
the client will usually be asked to practice challenging negative
thoughts as they happen, having been taught how to do this in sessions.
Sometimes the therapist will initially accompany the client when
they are doing a homework task such as exposure to a feared situation,
if this is too difficult for them to start doing on their own.
How long does it take?
therapy session lasts for about 45 to 60 minutes. The number of
sessions varies with the nature and severity of the problem. However,
CBT is not designed to be a long term treatment approach, and the
range is normally between 6 and 20 sessions.
is the training?
Psychologists are fully trained in CBT in the course of their post
graduate training. Other therapists can come from a range of different
backgrounds, such as Counselling or Mental Health Nursing and have
also completed an advanced training in CBT, which usually takes
about two years. Once sufficiently experienced, they can become
accredited as a CBT therapist through the BABCP.