Have you ever wondered how counsellors and psychologists make sense of all your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours? You may have heard of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and wondered what it is and how it may help you. Read on for an introduction to one of the most researched forms of psychotherapy with the largest evidence base.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one common therapy to help children, teenagers and adults with psychological issues.
CBT has been shown to help with:
- anger management
- anxiety related disorders
- eating disorders
- obsessive compulsive disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- relationship issues
- stress management
- substance abuse
How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy work?
CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are interconnected. Your thoughts can affect your feelings and behaviour, and your behaviour can affect the way you think and feel. CBT makes use of both thoughts and behaviours to influence feelings.
CBT can help you understand how your beliefs influence your negative thoughts.
For example, the negative automatic thought, ‘I will fail the upcoming test’, may be attributed to a belief of, ‘I fail at everything I try’.
CBT can also help you understand how your behaviours cause negative feelings, thoughts, or further behaviours. Negative or unhelpful behaviours can start after a traumatic event, major life change or illness, or can be a habit picked up at an early age. When facing unexpected challenges, these behaviours can form if you find it hard to adapt to the new situation and attempt to work through the challenge in an unhealthy way.
For example, someone suffering from anxiety may use alcohol to calm themselves down. However, using alcohol in this way may lead to an unhealthy dependence and, over time, a substance abuse problem that can affect other areas of their life.
What are the stages of CBT?
All mental health practitioners will have their own way of working with you to achieve your goals, however CBT will broadly follow the stages below:
- First you will work with your mental health practitioner to understand your most troubling problems.
- Then you identify your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about these situations, determining which are negative or inaccurate.
- Working with your mental health practitioner, you will find ways to challenge them by asking yourself Is that true? Or so what?
- You then identify how these negative beliefs are influencing your behaviour and how you can change them.
- You then find ways to think and act which are more positive for you.
When might CBT not be suitable?
CBT may be difficult for those with complex mental health problems or people with learning difficulties.
CBT focusses on improving your current problems, it does not explore the underlying reasons for your negative and unhelpful thought patterns. If this is something you wish to explore speak to one of our counsellors and they will find a therapy that is suitable to your needs.
How can I seek help?
CBT delivered by a professional mental health practitioner may help you learn to recognise and modify the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes which underlie your unhelpful behaviours.
For more information visit:
Reach out to our reception team via our contact page to find out how our qualified practitioners at Okay Counselling can help you start feeling OK again.