What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a psychological therapy that is time-limited, highly structured and focused on the here and now. In summary, it looks at the relationship between your thoughts, feelings and actions. CBT considers our own interpretation of a situation and how our thoughts & perceptions can affect our emotions, physical sensations and behaviour. CBT is collaborative by nature: with client and therapist working together on addressing issues/problems. CBT is an evidence-based treatment; this means that clinical studies have shown that it is effective in the treatment for many mental health conditions. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT for the treatment of many disorders. CBT can be delivered in an individual and group format.
How can CBT help me?
CBT helps you to identify and evaluate your thoughts in order to learn a more balanced way of thinking. It teaches you effective coping skills so that you can overcome your current difficulties as well as apply them to similar problems you may have in the future. CBT also involves making changes to your behaviour to find out how it affects your feelings and thoughts. This makes CBT different from reflective counseling as it mostly focuses on what’s keeping your problems going at the moment, rather than what’s happened in the past.
What can I expect to happen in therapy sessions?
You will have weekly 50 minute sessions with your therapist. The number of sessions will be determined after careful discussion with your therapist. During a typical CBT session with the guidance of your therapist, you will:
Set an agenda for the session
Focus on your current problems and identify what you would like to work on
Discuss the relationship between your thoughts, emotions and actions
Note down experiences and test out ideas or try out new skills
Be assigned work in between sessions so you can practice the new skills
Discuss any difficulties or questions that you have
Build up on new skills and concepts to become your own therapist
One of the most important features of CBT is that it involves you and your therapist working together as a team, collaborating input and ideas. This is to ensure you understand what you are being asked to do and that you are fully involved in your own treatment. Any questions, queries or hesitations you have at any stage, are welcomed and you should never feel bullied or forced into anything.
CBT As A ‘Doing’ Therapy
CBT isn’t just about talking. You will also be asked to record experiences, test out ideas or try out skills. You will be asked to monitor your experiences in detail between sessions. It is recommended that you bring a notepad or folder with you so you can make notes and keep paperwork together.
CBT differs from other therapies in that sessions are carefully structured. This helps to ensure that there is time to cover the points which are important to you. At the beginning of each session, you will jointly decide on the main issues to work on that week. There will also be time to discuss the previous session and the home practice that was agreed. At the end of the session, you will jointly plan material to complete for your next meeting.
Getting the Most Out Of CBT
CBT is most effective when sessions are attended regularly and on time. Sessions are often weekly and usually last for 50 minutes. Up to six sessions are generally offered before reviewing if CBT is helping you with your difficulties.
There is a commitment required from you, before embarking upon treatment, it is important you feel able to undertake this commitment and can give it priority.