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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a short term talking therapy with proven research that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.  CBT breaks down situations and looks at helping you develop a better understanding of what may be maintaining your difficulties and helps you develop and learn new skills to help manage them differently.  The client and the therapist work together collectively to gain the understanding and this can be very helpful to those who are willing to put in the effort in between the sessions to enable them to really benefit.

It's most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

How does CBT work?

Our CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations in the body, actions are interconnected and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle of negative and repetitive unhelpful behaviour.

CBT aims to help you deal with the overwhelming problems you face for good as your taught new skill on how to deal with things in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts.

You're shown how to change these old negative patterns to improve the way you feel.

Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems rather than issues from your past.

It looks for practical and helpful ways to improve your state of mind now on a daily basis.

What Do Help With CBT?

CBT has been proven to be an effective way of treating a number of different mental and pysical health conditions.

In addition to depression or anxiety disorders, CBT can also help people with:

CBT is also sometimes used to treat people with long-term health conditions, such as:


*Although CBT cannot cure the physical symptoms of these conditions, it can help people cope better with their symptoms.

What happens during CBT sessions

If CBT is recommended, you'll usually have a session with a therapist once a week.

The course of treatment usually lasts for between 8 and 20 sessions, with each session lasting 60 minutes.

In your sessions, you'll work with your therapist to break down your problems into their separate parts, such as your thoughts, physical feelings and actions.

You’ll analyse these areas to work out if they're unrealistic or unhelpful, and determine the effect they have on those around you and on you.

Your therapist will then be able to help you work out how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours for a more peaceful for filling life.

After working out what you can change, your therapist will ask you to practise these changes in your daily life, make notes, keep records and you'll discuss how you got on during the next session.

The end aim of the therapy is to teach you to apply the skills you have learnt during treatment to your daily life.

This should help you manage your problems and stop them overwhelming you and stop them having a negative impact on your life, even into the future after your course of treatment finishes.

Pros and cons of CBT

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be as effective as medication in treating some mental health problems, but it may not be successful or suitable for everyone.

Some of the advantages of CBT include:

  • it may be helpful where medicine alone hasn’t worked

  • it can be completed in a short period of time compared with other talking therapies

  • the highly structured nature of CBT means it can be provided in different formats, including in groups, self-help books and free apps (You can find free mental health apps and tools in the NHS apps library)

  • it teaches you useful and practical strategies that can be used in everyday life, even after the treatment has finished

Some of the disadvantages of CBT to consider include:

  • you need to commit yourself to the process to get the most from it – a therapist can help and advise you, but they need your commitment to work with them during and in between sessions

  • attending regular CBT sessions and carrying out any extra work between sessions can take up more of your time

  • it may not be suitable for people with more complex mental health needs or learning difficulties, as it requires structured sessions

  • it involves confronting your emotions and anxieties – you may experience initial periods where you're anxious or emotionally uncomfortable (Healing Crisis)

  • it focuses on the person's capacity to empower and change themselves (their thoughts, feelings and behaviours) – this does not address any wider problems in systems or families that often have a significant impact on someone's health and wellbeing

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