Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

The cognitive behavioural approach assumes that anyone can develop mental health difficulties if the meanings that someone gives to life events are sufficiently upsetting or negative.  When someone knows that something very pleasant is about to happen to them they usually feel happy.  However, if someone attaches distressing or negative meanings to any life events or situations then they are just as likely to experience distressing emotions.  Distressing meanings and emotions are then likely to adversely affect the way that they behave.  For example, someone who feels continually sad and starts to believe that their life holds no future happiness will be much more likely to avoid doing activities, even if they used to be pleasurable.  Linking thoughts and emotions with behaviour can keep people suffering with mental health difficulties stuck in a 'vicious circle'; what they do is a consequence of what they believe, and also serves to confirm what they believe.

Some people may interpret some events as more threatening or personally harmful than they really are because of deeply ingrained beliefs and rules of living learned from the past.  In quite a 'silent' way these beliefs influence how individuals make sense of their day-to-day experiences, the world and other people.


CBT provides an empowering, person-centred and structured framework for collaborative working between therapists and patients. CBT aims to enable individuals with mental health difficulties to make better sense of their difficulties through personal discovery and considering more useful ways of dealing with those difficulties.  Patients are assisted in making clear both the problems they want help with and the goals they want to work towards. Extensive evidence shows that CBT helps people with mental health difficulties.  

CBT has been found to be helpful for anxiety problems and depression, and severe and enduring psychosis. 

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