What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is a talk therapy that can help you to understand the link between how you think, how you feel and how you behave as a result of your thoughts. We all have our own unique ways of interpreting and reacting to our experiences. Some of our inner processes are positive […]

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

By Sue Bennett

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is a talk therapy that can help you to understand the link between how you think, how you feel and how you behave as a result of your thoughts. We all have our own unique ways of interpreting and reacting to our experiences. Some of our inner processes are positive and some are negative. CBT is a proven psychological treatment that can help you to reprogram the thought patterns that are keeping you stuck. In restructuring the thoughts that interpret your experiences CBT can work to enable a positive change in the quality of your life, choices and inner dialogue.

How can CBT help me?

CBT can give you clarity on how your problems began and the mental and emotional tools to respond to them differently. This can  lessen the emotional charge of trigger problems and help you with the opportunity to redirect yourself towards positive action and improved experiences. CBT is a flexible treatment that will help you within your own unique set of circumstances to overcome and manage the effects of a wide range of resulting issues that may include:

– depression
– anxiety and panic attacks
– low self-esteem
– borderline personality disorder
– obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
– post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
– sleep problems and insomnia
– eating disorders
– phobias
– psychosis
– schizophrenia
– anger problems
– drug or alcohol problems
– sexual and relationship problems
– CBT can also help to manage problems and conditions such as chronic fatigue and chronic pain.

What will happen during a CBT session?

You will meet with a therapist and talk confidentially about what is causing you distress and problems in your life.  The therapist will listen and ask directed questions that are designed to help you to identify the underlying thought processes and attached emotions that may be keeping you in a cycle of negative experiences and emotions.  Together you will work through a number of different exercises and worksheets so that you can learn new ways of thinking about situations and emotions.  You will also be given worksheets and questionnaires to complete at home in between sessions.  These worksheets will ensure that you have absorbed and understood these new thought processes effectively, and they aim to support you in becoming an independent, empowered and positive thinker after your course of CBT therapy is complete.

How can I access CBT?

You can access CBT for free through a referral from your GP, organisations such as CAMHS, or in many cases by referring yourself to community based mental health support services such as those listed on our ‘Find Help’ map or via Youth Access.

You may also opt to find a CBT therapist privately for a set fee per session.  The BABCP, BACP and BPS have geographical search engines that will help you to locate an officially accredited CBT therapist near you.  If you are at school, college or university you may be able to access a free voluntary service and can ask your personal tutor, guidance counsellor or student union to guide you towards help.

Distance and computerised CBT sessions are also available online.  Beating the Blues requires a referral from your GP, or you can self-refer to websites such as Moodgym or Fear Fighter for a fee.  CBT self-help books may also be useful if you feel you feel the problem is not too severe and you are able to manage it independently.

Recommended self-help reading for young people from the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

Getting through it with CBT: a young person’s guide by Claire Holdaway

Getting through depression with CBT: a young person’s guide by Louise Dalton

Getting through Anxiety with CBT: A young person’s guide by Ben Gurney-Smith

Breaking free from OCD: a CBT guide for young people and their families by Jo Derisley

 

Illustration Credit

‘Counselling for social anxiety disorder, illustration’ by Jasmine Parker. Credit: Jasmine ParkerCC BY-NC

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