Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is currently one of the most widely used forms of psychotherapy that has been proven to be effective in treating most of emotional and mental health disorders. CBT is a treatment recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for many mental health disorders among which are:
- Depression and low mood
- Sleeping problems
- Low self-esteem
- Anxiety disorders (Generalised Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder),
- Anger issues
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Marital/couples problems
- Childhood emotional and conduct problems
CBT has its origins in cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy and now it is the foundation for most other therapeutic approaches.
CBT assumes that our emotions and behaviours are caused by the way we think, and not by the life events themselves. The therapeutic process is mainly focused on identifying the negative emotions (eg anxiety, depression, anger) and dysfunctional behaviours (eg aggression, avoidance, running away, drug use, isolation, withdrawal from social life) and underlying errors in thinking (eg catastrophizing/disaster thinking, all or nothing thinking, overgeneralisation, self-blame) that are causing these emotions and behaviours. Then the therapy aims to challenge and produce a change in the unhelpful way of thinking that will have a beneficial impact on how we feel and behave later.
The sessions are run in a collaborative way, the client having the major role in setting and reaching the goals for the therapy, setting the agenda for each session, but most of all practising and generalizing in day to day life the learnt techniques. The therapist is directive in explaining what CBT is and what are the most efficient techniques for specific problems, so that the client is enabled to become his/her own therapist.
CBT is a time limited intervention, but the number of sessions depends on the severity of the problem. It can be an average of 15 sessions.