What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychological therapy that recognises the complex relationship and interaction between thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and uses this principle to make changes to work towards psychological wellbeing.
CBT works on the 'here and now' presenting problems, and considers these in context of important events from the past and ways in which previous difficulties have been dealt with or addressed. This approach conceptualises psychological difficulties within an explanatory framework, that is to say, psychological problems are explained and understood as logical consequences, or normal responses to difficulties from our past, often maintained by ways of thinking and behaving that were originally designed to alleviate distress.
CBT is based on the idea that we are often vulnerable to geting caught up in unhelpful ways of thinking or behaving, and that making changes in one area will influence and promote changes in other areas, leading to improved psychologial health.
CBT is currently available on the NHS, offering time-limited treatment of specific psychological or health difficulties, and is recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines who outline the most effective treatments to be made available with the NHS.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been found to be particularly helpful for people who suffer from low mood, anxiety or physical health problems. Specific conditions or difficulties that can respond well to CBT include the following:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Social anxiety
- Health anxiety
- Panic attacks and agoraphobia
- Self-esteem issues
- Generalized anxiety, i.e. excessive worry
Psychological therapy to facilitate adjustment to physical health problems, or focussed CBT, may also benefit the management of physical health conditions such as:
- Chronic Pain
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Other physical symptoms which are not associated with a specific medical condition
This is not an exhaustive list, please do not hesitate to ask if you have an enquiry about a specific condition or symptom.
The course of CBT usually consists of initially spending time making sense of difficulties and identifying meaningful goals for therapy. This may relate to alleviating psychological symptoms of depression or anxiety, or more practical changes such as increasing enjoyable activities you used to enjoy but no longer engage in because of psychological or physical health difficultes. The course of therapy will involve working towards those goals within a CBT framework.
CBT is a collaborative psychological therapy, and is ideally suited to those who are motivated to make changes and prefer an approach which uses active techniques and skills to work towards goals of therapy.
Whilst my main therapeutic orientation is CBT, I adapt my therapeutic approach to suit the individual. This means that a course of psychological therapy can range from being structured time-limited therapy working to clear therapy goals, to open ended therapy which concentrates on 'making sense' of current problems.
I also work as a psychological therapist within a biopsychosocial framework: I consider it important to work with the whole person - which encompasses biological, psychological, social and also spiritual aspects. As human beings we are all complicated social beings, and very often difficulties arise which affect us in all areas of our life - physical and psychological problems do not usually occur independently, or in a vacuum.