CBT explained

What is cognitive behaviour therapy or CBT, and how does it work?

What it is

CBT is an active, flexible and goal focused therapy. It combines cognitive and behavioural therapies, with an emphasis on the use of techniques to help individuals to make adjustments in the way they think, feel and act. It is used in the treatment of a wide range of problems which include:

  • Stress
  • Phobias
  • Panic
  • Low self esteem
  • Eating disorders
  • Problems with self-image
  • Feeling miserable or depressed
  • Managing traumatic incidents and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) such as excessive checking behaviour or feeling distressed because you experience really unpleasant thoughts which you believe you cannot control
  • Feeling anxious: from general anxiety and realising that you worry a lot, to more specific anxiety such as worrying about what others think of you; or feeling anxious about your health, including worrying that you will get ill.

CBT can also help to reduce anger, manage perfectionistic tendencies, reduce the occurrence of certain habits and improve sleeping patterns.

How it works

In CBT the first meeting is known as the assessment session, in this meeting the client can talk about the issues that are worrying them while the psychologist asks detailed questions about the problems presented. At the end of the session the psychologist and client discuss how to take the therapy forward, this involves developing an individualised treatment plan to manage problems effectively.

In CBT the psychologist and client  agree to meet for a set number of sessions, the length of the therapy can vary depending on the complexity and severity of the problems presented. The majority of sessions are 50 minutes in length. In addition, completing homework assignments between sessions is common practice. For example an individual with panic attacks may need to keep a record of when their panic attacks occur and the unhelpful thoughts and physical symptoms which occur at the time of the attack.

Treatment is paid for by the individual at the end of every session or if you have private health insurance e.g. Aviva or BUPA they may fund the treatment. To find out ring your insurers and ask what funding is available for cognitive behaviour therapy. Sessions are usually conducted face to face, although at times some sessions can be done on the phone or using Skype.

As a native Polish speaker, Kasia can also conduct sessions in Polish.

For more information about cognitive behaviour therapy please see the website of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies.