CBT | therapy worth talking about
What is CBT?
CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is a talking therapy that has been proven to help treat a wide range of emotional and physical health conditions in adults, young people and children. CBT looks at how we think about a situation and how this affects the way we act. In turn, our actions can affect how we think and feel. The way our body feels is linked to our emotions and our thoughts.
The therapist and client work together in noticing whether any thoughts or behaviours are unhelpful for the client, and thinking about whether these could be changed.
There is a great deal of research evidence to
show that CBT works effectively in treating
depression. This research has been carefully
reviewed by the National Institute for Health and
Clinical Excellence (NICE).
NICE provides independent, evidence-based
guidance for the NHS on the most effective ways to
treat disease and ill health. CBT is recommended by
NICE for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
What can CBT help with?
NICE recommends CBT in the treatment of the
anxiety disorders (including panic attacks and
post-traumatic stress disorder)
obsessive compulsive disorder
schizophrenia and psychosis
There is also good evidence that CBT is helpful in
treating many other conditions, including:
behavioural difficulties in children
anxiety disorders in children
physical symptoms without a medical diagnosis
CBT can be used if you are on medication which
has been prescribed by your GP. You can also use
CBT on its own. This will depend on the difficulty
you want help with.
How CBT is delivered
CBT can be offered in individual sessions with a
therapist or as part of a group. The number of CBT
sessions you need depends on the difficulty you
need help with. Often this will be between five and
20 weekly sessions lasting between 30 and 60
minutes each. CBT is mainly concerned with how
you think and act now, instead of looking at and
getting help with difficulties in your past.
You and your therapist will discuss your specific
difficulties and set goals for you to achieve. CBT is
not a quick fix. It involves hard work during and
between sessions. Your therapist will not tell you
what to do. Instead they will help you decide what
difficulties you want to work on in order to help
you improve your situation. Your therapist will
be able to advise you on how to continue using
CBT techniques in your daily life after your
CBT is available in a wide range of settings, as well
as hospitals or clinics. It is sometimes provided in
the form of written or computer-based packages.
This may be combined with flexible telephone or
face-to-face appointments to check progress and
help overcome any barriers to putting into
practice what you have learned. This way of
delivering CBT has made it more accessible to
people with busy lives, and has also reduced
delays in getting help.
CBT-based self-help books are available. There are
also websites providing information on CBT
techniques which are free to access. Evidence
does show that using them works better with
support from a therapist, especially for low mood.
Finding a therapist
CBT is now widely available on the NHS for the
treatment of depression. If you feel that CBT may
be helpful, then you should first discuss it with
your GP. Private therapists are also available.
Before starting CBT, it is recommended that you
check that your therapist is accredited by BABCP.
You can find details of all CBT therapists
accredited by BABCP online at
BABCP stands for the British Association for
Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies. It has
been the lead organisation for CBT in the UK since
1972. BABCP members work in the NHS, social care,
education and universities. BABCP also provides
accreditation to those who practise CBT in the NHS
and privately. It is widely recognised by health and
social care employers, training institutions and
health insurance companies. BABCP believes that
accreditation is important in protecting the public
and raising the quality of CBT.
© BABCP Published October 2012
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