What Is CBT?

CBT is a structured, short-term form of psychotherapy in which the blocks to your happiness and wellbeing are actively sought out and overcome. In contrast to traditional analytic psychotherapy which might last for months if not years, CBT is relatively brief, lasting anywhere from 5 to 15 sessions. It is considered to be one of the most powerful and effective ways of gaining long term control over unhealthy emotions and self-defeating behaviours.

CBT works by helping people to change the way they think about themselves and about situations they find themselves in. There is also an understanding that it is important to address any behaviours that might be causing you problems (such as avoidance or poor impulse-control) and so, both thoughts and behaviours are targeted.

CBT is probably the most widely researched form of therapy. Many hundreds of studies have shown CBT to be as effective as anti-depressant medication in alleviating some forms of depression and anxiety, and more effective than medication for preventing recurrence of these problems. This sort of evidence has led NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to recommend CBT as the first line of treatment in the NHS for Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD), Eating Disorders, Panic, and many other conditions.

In CBT the emphasis is on helping clients to build new skills, and for you to effectively become your own therapist. The idea behind this is summed up in the well-known saying;

“If you give a hungry person a fish, you feed them for a day – teach that person to fish and you feed them for life”.

CBT works best if you have specific issues you wish to address, although even if you have complex needs you should be able to break issues down into manageable chunks. Issues that are particularly appropriate for CBT include;

  • Anxiety and Stress problems
  • Depression
  • Anger management
  • Guilt and shame
  • Jealousy and hurt
  • Self-esteem and confidence
  • Panic Attacks
  • Social phobia and Agoraphobia (specific phobias like flying, vertigo, animals, etc. may be better tackled using hypnotherapy)
  • Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Traumatic Stress (PTSD)