What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is a talking therapy, which has been proved to help treat a wide range of emotional and physical health conditions in adults, young people and children.

In any situation, how we think (cognitive thinking) influences how we feel and what we do in response. When we experience distress, the way we respond with our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, can intensify our problems and we may feel stuck in certain patterns. CBT can help you to have an understanding of your responses to stress, and how they have developed. It can also help you develop more appropriate responses.

Unlike other therapies, CBT focuses mostly on the present to help you change how you respond to, and manage, problems. We look at what you have learned in the past, consider whether that response is still helpful, and if not, help you develop more balanced ways of thinking and behaving which are more realistic and help you feel better. Shorter-term than other types of psychotherapy, the goal of CBT is to provide you with new skills and responses, enabling you to become your own therapist and deal more successfully with future challenges.


What problems does CBT help with?

The government’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • anxiety disorders (including panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • depression
  • obsessive compulsive disorder

There is also good evidence that CBT is helpful in treating many other conditions, including:

  • chronic fatigue
  • chronic pain
  • physical symptoms without a medical diagnosis
  • sleep difficulties
  • anger management
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