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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and how to find a CBT therapist

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychological talking therapy treatment that helps patients to understand the thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that influence their feelings and behaviours. Placing empahsis on the here and now, a qualified cognitive behavioural therapist can help you break down your problems into smaller, more manageable parts. Cognitive behaviour therapists will work with you to agree established goals for the therapy.

CBT is usually short-term and focuses specifically on helping to deal with a specific problem or difficulty. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions are straightforward and accessible from any location via Skype.

The underlying theory behing CBT is that thought patterns are at the root of how we interpret and deal with situations and that changing how we think can affect how we feel or behave. This is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviours, as opposed to external events or situations.

How does CBT work?

Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to become more aware of your thought patterns and how these affect your emotions and behaviours. It emphasises identifying, challenging and changing negative thought patterns so that you can challenge your thoughts about situations and become more aware of how your thinking might be determining how you view the world and how you behave.

How to find a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist

If you are looking to find a good CBT therapist it is important to make sure that they have the appropriate skills, training and experience. The British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) and The British Psychological Society (BPS) are membership bodies for accredited CBT therapists in the UK. You can find a CBT therapist who is insured to practice and registered with a recognised UK membership body online here.

What can CBT help with?

Under the UK government’s NICE guidelines, CBT is recognised as one of the most effective treatments for a number of mental health issues. These conditions include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, anger problems, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, drug and alcohol abuse, sleep issues and relationship problems. In some cases, CBT can match the effectiveness of antidepressant medications such as Sertraline.
CBT can also be used to treat chronic health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and arthritis. While it cannot provide a cure for these conditions, it can help individuals cope with their physical symptoms in the long-term. CBT can offer support for issues including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, stress, self-esteem, anger management, eating disorders, trauma and PTSD, phobias, addictions, obsessive compulsive disorder and other areas.

Pros and cons of CBT

The benefits of CBT include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is more brief than other therapeutic approaches.
  • You will gain techniques and practical strategies to continue using in everyday life once therapy has ended.
  • There is lots of research to support the effectiveness of CBT, as it is usually focussed on measurable goals.
  • CBT is a collaborative process; you and your therapist will work together to set goals.

Some disadvantage of CBT:

  • CBT tends to focus on the here and now and the management of specific issues, as opposed to understanding the unconscious causes for them (for example childhood trauma).
  • While all therapy requires work, CBT also involves homework or practice outside of sessions, which may not be suitable for some.
  • CBT sessions are highly structured, which may be less suitable if you have complex mental health issues.
  • CBT focuses on you as an individual rather than on wider problems in family or societal contexts.

Types of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

There are many therapeutic approaches that involve CBT. A few of the most common include:
  • Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) focuses on identifying and altering irrational beliefs (such as inflexible beliefs starting with phrases like “I must” and “I should”, eg. “I should be able to do everything I used to, at all times”). REBT therapy centres on challenging such beliefs and learning to recognise the thought patterns affecting them.
  • Cognitive Therapy focuses on identifying and changing inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns and problematic emotional responses. This process is used to ultimately change the associated behaviours with these thought patterns, by enabling more flexible ways of thinking.
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and behaviours and incorporates emotional regulation and mindfulness strategies in treatment.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) emphasises the role of accepting our feelings and emotions as they are, rather than trying to change or stop them, as a way to live a healthier life. ACT integrates mindfulness exercises as a method of experiencing and understanding emotions.


How many sessions of CBT will I need?

The number of cognitive behavioural therapy sessions you receive from a counsellor or psychotherapist will depend on your presenting issues. Short term courses of cognitive behavioural therapy are usually recommended when an individual presents issues that are non-complex. You and your therapist can discuss how many sessions may be required during your first consultation.

Your cognitive behaviour therapist

A qualified, professional cognitive behaviour therapist will work with you to examine your thoughts and behaviours and improve how you feel. You will build a relationship based on trust, giving you the confidence to share your feelings and emotions with them. Your therapist should listen to all that you have to share with empathy and openness.
We ensure that all therapists on the Harley Therapy platform are UK registered, insured, and professionally trained counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and cognitive behaviour therapists. They will work with you to decide the pace of your treatment and how many sessions of CBT you might need.

What can you expect from a CBT session?

Your cognitive behaviour therapist will assist you in breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts. This will help you to see how they are connected and how they are affecting you. You will meet with your cognitive behavioural therapist for a course of weekly sessions that will last approximately 50 minutes. During your first consultation, your therapist will examine how suitable CBT is for managing your issues and assess how comfortable you feel with undertaking therapy. Your therapist may ask you to keep a diary and track your emotions, patterns of thoughts, physical feelings, and actions. You will then look at this log together and work out how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours may be connected, how they affect you, and if they are unrealistic or unhelpful.
Once you have indentified what can be changed, your therapist may recommend homework that will help you to practice and apply these changes in your everyday life. This may include questioning upsetting thoughts and countering them with more positive ones, or focusing on taking positive action when you recognise that you may be about to do something that will make you feel worse. Cognitive behavioural therapy is not an instant fix or miracle cure. However, CBT can be greatly beneficial as you can continue to use the skills you learn in future situations to prevent negative thought spirals.

At Harley Therapy, we vet our therapists to ensure that they are registered and insured to practice as a therapist in the UK. We check that they are registered members of UK professional bodies, to ensure that all of our therapists have completed the professional training necessary to work as a licensed practitioner.
You can filter our qualified, professional cognitive behaviour therapists by location, cost, availability, approach so that you can find and book your best match simply and quickly.

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