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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

"Thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are interconnected, and changing any one of these can change the others."
Professor Aaron Beck (1921 –  2021) - American psychiatrist and the father of Cognitive therapy and Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Frequently asked questions about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
CBT is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to mental health issues.

What types of mental health conditions can CBT treat?
CBT can be used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and eating disorders.


How does CBT work?
CBT works by helping individuals identify negative or distorted thought patterns and behaviours and replacing them with more positive and adaptive ones. This is done through a combination of talk therapy, homework assignments, and behavioural exercises.


How long does CBT take?
The length of CBT treatment can vary depending on your needs and the severity of your condition. It can range from a few weeks to several months or even longer.

Is CBT effective?
Yes, CBT has been shown to be an effective treatment for many mental health conditions. It is often used as a first-line treatment because of its demonstrated effectiveness and relatively short treatment duration compared to other types of therapy.



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 a distressing or negative meaning to any life event or situation then they are just as likely to experience distressing emotions. Distressing meanings and emotions are then likely to adversely affect their behaviour. 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 from 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' manner these unhelpful 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.

You can help yourself by practising CBT.  Start by keeping a daily Thought Record and reflect on your feelings, thoughts, and actions. STOPP is CBT in a nutshell. 









Living Life to the Full - the most recommended online CBT course for anxiety and depression in NHS England. Written by an accredited CBT practitioner who is also an expert in education and training, Dr Chris Williams, Emeritus Professor of Psychosocial Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow.

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Working with Serious Mental Illness: A Manual for Clinical Practice. London: Balliere Tindall in association with the Royal College of Nursing, Harcourt.Grant, A, Mills J, Mulhern R & Short, N (2006). 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Mental Health Care. London: Sage Publications.Greenberger, D & Padesky, C A (1995). 

Mind over Mood: A Cognitive Therapy Treatment  Manual for Clients. New York: Guilford Press.Hawton, K, Salkovskis, P M, Kirk, J & Clark, D M (eds) (1989). 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Psychiatric Problems: A Practical Guide. New York: Oxford University Press.Jones, C, Cormac, I, Mota, J & Campbell, C (2000).

"Cognitive behaviour therapy for schizophrenia (Cochrane review)", in The Cochrane Library, Issue 3. Exford: Update Software.Leahy, R L & Holland, S J (2000). 

Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.NHS Centre for Reviews & Dissemination (August 2000). "Psychosocial interventions for schizophrenia", Effective Health Care bulletin on the effectiveness of health service interventions for decision makers, 6, p3.Persons, J (1989). Cognitive Therapy in Practice: A Case Formulation Approach. New York: Norton.Wells, A (1997). Cognitive Therapy of Anxiety Disorders: A Practice Manual and conceptual Guide. Chichester: John Wiley.

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