Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) combines Cognitive Therapy, and Behavioural Therapy and involves changing the way you think (cognitive) and how you respond to these thoughts (behaviour). CBT focuses on the 'here and now', reflecting on where it came from, and breaks overwhelming problems into smaller parts to make them easier to deal with. These smaller parts can be described as thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. Each of these has the ability to affect the other, e.g. the way you think about things can affect how you feel emotionally and physically, and ultimately how you behave.
CBT is based on the principle that individuals learn unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving over a long period of time. However, identifying these thoughts and how they can be problematic to feelings and behaviours can enable individuals to challenge negative ways of thinking, leading to positive feelings and behavioural changes. It is possible for the therapy to take place on a one-to-one basis, with family members or even as a group depending on the issue and how the individual feels most comfortable.
CBT is widely used within the NHS (although waiting times can sometimes be long), is evidenced based and supported by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
CBT can be useful for dealing with issues such as:
- Drug or Alcohol Problems
- Eating Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post-Natal Depression
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Sexual and Relationship Problems
The emphasis on cognitive or behaviour aspects of therapy can vary depending on the issue. For example, the emphasis may be more towards cognitive therapy when treating depression, or the emphasis may be more towards behaviour therapy when treating obsessive compulsive disorder.
CBT is a practical therapy, which is likely to work best treating a specific issue as it focuses on particular problems and how to overcome them.
CBT sessions may consist of a number of activities, including:
- Coping skills
- Challenging certain thoughts
- Thought stopping
- Homework projects
- Training in communication