What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that looks at the thoughts, feelings and behaviours in relation to a client's problems. This approach often (but not always) focuses on the here and now and on the achievement of short term and long term goals.
At the heart of CBT, lies the key assumption that our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes (the cognitive material) have a profound impact upon our emotions, behaviours and our physiology. To paraphrase Epictetus, the Greek Philosopher:
"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them"
The therapist and client work together to understand how the client's problems are being maintained in the present and then they identify goals and agree on a treatment plan. The aim of therapy is for the client to come up with solutions or better ways of coping with their problems.
Sessions are weekly to begin with and usually last 50 minutes. Therapy is often over a period of 6 to 12 sessions though this can vary greatly depending on the type and severity of the problem(s).
Out of all the different types of counselling and psychotherapy approaches that are out there, CBT is the most researched and has been shown to be effective at treating depression and anxiety disorders. Over the last 20 years, its popularity has grown and it has been adapted to treat various disorders and conditions.
CBT has a strong psycho-educational component to it and so clients leave with tools, techniques and knowledge to maintain their gains long after the therapy has finished.
What can CBT help with?
There have been numerous studies carried out which have shown CBT to be an effective form of psychotherapy. It can help with:
Anxiety and panic attacks
Phobias (e.g. agoraphobia, social phobia)
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder
Are there other approaches to counselling and psychotherapy?
Yes. There are many different schools of thought in this field and it is important to choose a therapist that practices the approach that you are looking for. For more information on the different types available, it is best to look at the various definitions held at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy website (www.bacp.co.uk).