What is CBT and what does it involve?
CBT or Cognitive Behavoural Therapy is a form of psychotherapy which uses a specific goal oriented procedure focusing on how you feel about yourself, the world around you and other people. CBT is based on a 'model' or theory that it is not events themselves that upset us, but the meanings we give them. It focuses on how this affects our thoughts and feelings as well as the way we behave, challenging negative or unhelpful thoughts and behaviours (our cognitive thoughts).
CBT tends to focus on problems and difficulties experienced now in the present although a therapist may need to ask about the past to make full use of the techniques to their best effect.
Very often the therapy involves homework in the form of completing a diary to help reflect on behaviours and emotions.
What can CBT help with?
CBT has been shown to help with many different types of problems including:
- Panic attacks
- Phobias (including agoraphobia)
- Eating disorders
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Anger management
- Low self esteem
- Chronic pain or fatigue syndrome
- Drug misuse
CBT can also be useful in dealing with problems in marriages, work, concentration levels and difficulty in sleeping.
How is CBT applied?
CBT can be done individually on a one to one basis with a therapist or with a group of people. It can also be learnt using a self-help book or computer programme. In England and Wales, two computer-based programmes have been approved for use by the NHS. 'Fear Fighter' is for people with phobias or panic attacks; 'Beating the Blues' is for people with mild to moderate depression.
How effective is it?
CBT is not a quick fix – treatment is most effective over a period of time but has proved to be more effective than anti depressants with more long term benefits. CBT is a recommended treatment through the NHS in the UK Studies have shown that two years after therapy has ended, CBT patients do better than those using other treatments
Treatment can be challenging and you must want to actively change your thoughts and behaviour for it to be successful. You will need to be open, persistent and brave when undergoing CBT and you may have to deal with difficult emotions such as anger, guilt and shame