Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an evidence-based approach and its effectiveness has been supported by hundreds of clinical trials for many different disorders. CBT is recommended by National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidelines, which means that the use of CBT for the treatment of a range of difficulties is the standards set out by the government.
More about CBT
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) looks at how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours impact each other and maintain difficulties.
Using a fictious example:
Joe has a fear of the dentist. When he considers going to the dentist he thinks “I won’t be able to cope with that, I will run out mid-way through. People will see how nervous I am and think I am being silly.” Joe feels afraid, and avoids talking about the dentist, thinking about the dentist and he also avoids going to the dentist. Joe’s phobia causes much distress and stops Joe from receiving dental treatment.
The initial stages in CBT is to build a shared understanding of the problem in terms of thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Consequently, Joe and his therapist would consider the way Joe thinks, feels and what he does, or does not do in relation to his difficulties. This can be ‘mapped out’ in a diagram such as the one below.
Joe's vicious cycle map
The ‘three area model’ depicted in the diagram above,’ is a simple yet highly effective way of making sense of distress. CBT therapists have knowledge surrounding wide range of these models. The effectiveness of these models in relation to understanding distress, have been supported by scientific evidence. Nevertheless, CBT therapist are trained to help you understand your distress in a way that makes sense to you. This understanding provides a platform for you and your therapist to find ways for you to move forwards with your life.
People are very complex and we can ALL engage in a range of ‘vicious cycles.’ Some cycles can be helpful, and some not so helpful. Therefore, during the initial stages of your treatment, you will be asked what you want to achieve from the sessions, what your goals are. Treatment goals are a central part of CBT and helpful for a range of reasons. Goals can ensure that you are getting want you want out of the sessions, and they can also help you and the therapist to focus on one specific area at a time, thus maximising the benefits to you.
CBT is a ‘collaborative therapy.’ Your therapist will work with you to develop a new understanding of your distress, and new and more helpful, ways to move forward. New and more helpful thoughts and behaviours may be strengthened or tested out by experiments. Whatever treatment strategies are agreed, they will be agreed together between you and your therapist.
CBT is ‘time-limited,’ usually lasting between 6 and 20 sessions. This however depends on what you feel is right for you. CBT aims for you to learn specific skills that you can use for the rest of your life
For more information on CBT can be found by clicking on the following link which will take you to the NHS information page: