Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy also known as CBT is a therapy that focuses on life situations, how we think about them and our consequential actions and associated behaviour. Cognitive relates to our thoughts and feelings and behaviour relates to the actions that come as a consequence of those thoughts.
Although as a therapy it is implemented to treat many different mental health and physical problems too it, it is most commonly used to treat depression and anxiety.
CBT is based on the premise that our feelings and thoughts and our physical state are interconnected and influence each other. Consequently, our actions are related to those thoughts, feelings and actions. This means that we can recognise the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour and alter that relationship to improve our wellbeing.
When we can recognise how we behave in direct relation to a thought, feeling or physical experience, we can change the behaviour that follows. The outcome is that by changing the way we think and respond to something, changes the experience. Because we can change that experience, we can a create a more positive outcome.
Who is CBT for?
It is a proven treatment for adults, adolescents and children and although very effective, will not be suitable for everyone.
In the UK treatments are recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) The available peer reviewed research on CBT has been reviewed carefully by NICE and CBT has been recommended for the treatment of anxiety disorders, these include post-traumatic stress and panic attacks. Additionally, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis and schizophrenia, are all included in the list of recommended disorders that can be treated with CBT.
A growing body of evidence indicates that CBT is particularly effective in treating other problems too such as children with behavioural problems, chronic fatigue, chronic pain and anxiety disorders in children. People with sleeping difficulties including insomnia, anger management problems and physical symptoms without a diagnosis have also been successfully treated with CBT.
How Cognitive behavioural therapy is applied
For most clients CBT is delivered over a period of between five and twenty sessions. Each session typically lasting between thirty and fifty minutes each. How many sessions you will need and how long they last will depend on the difficulties you are experiencing. A discussion between the client and the therapist will determine how to move forward, including the difficulties that being addressed and the outcome that is sought. The client and the therapist then determine what goals should be set.
The good thing about CBT is that your therapist will guide you in using CBT outside of sessions in everyday life. The client will need to apply the guidance so that you can you progress from session to session. Also, the client will be guided in deciding which problems need addressing first and how to use CBT to make an improvement. Clients will not be told what to do about their situations, rather the therapist will help them to make decisions for themselves and continue with using CBT as they move forward.
Accessibility to treatment
CBT is not a treatment used for helping clients deal with problems that relate to their past. It is in many aspects a very real “present tense” treatment. This makes it a very flexible treatment. Quite often clients with extremely busy lives are able to access this treatment because it can also be delivered remotely. Modern technology with email, Skype, telephones, even combined with staged face to face appointments mean that those with very little time can still enjoy a treatment programme.
A lot of people do use self help programmes. Nevertheless, evidence indicates that CBT works most effectively when supported and guided by a therapist.
How to find a therapist
Anyone offering CBT should be a registered therapist with the BABCP. They can ask their GP, although a local online search should help anyone looking for a treatment. Websites such as Uktherapyguide and CBT register will provide you with a starting point and it is likely that you won’t need to look any further. It is alright to ask the therapist about their qualifications. While asking their GP is a good start, recommendations from friends and family can also go a long way to finding the right the right therapist.