Anxiety disorders, including phobias, panic attacks and panic
Body dysmorphic disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Habits such as facial tics
Drug or alcohol abuse
Some sleep problems
Chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS/ME
Chronic (persistent) pain
What is Cognitive Behavioural
Our cognitive processes are our thoughts, which include our
ideas, beliefs, attitudes and mental images. Cognitive therapy bases its principle around the idea that
certain ways of thinking can trigger certain health problems such as anxiety, depression, phobias and the
physical symptoms related to these. Our therapist can help you understand your current thought patterns
and identify any harmful, unhelpful and false ideas or thoughts which you have that can trigger your health
problem or make it worse. The aim is then to change your ways of thinking to avoid these ideas and to help
your thought patterns be more realistic and helpful.
This part aims to change any behaviours that are not helpful or
harmful. To do this the therapist uses various techniques. For example a particular common unhelpful
behaviour is to avoid situations that can make you feel anxious. In some people with phobias this avoidance
can become extreme and effect every day life. In this situation when the person is ready, the therapist may
use exposure therapy whereby the person is gradually more and more exposed to the feared situation. The
therapist will teach you how to control anxiety and cope when you face the feared situation by using
techniques including deep breathing.
This is a combination of cognitive and behavioural therapies.
They are combined because how we behave reflects how we think about certain things or situations. The
emphasis on cognitive or behavioural aspects of therapy can vary, depending on the condition being treated.
For example when treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), where repetitive compulsive actions are the
main problem, the emphasis will be more on behavioural therapy. In contrast when treating depression the
emphasis will be on cognitive therapy. However, in every condition both are used to some degree due to the
close link between how we think and how we behave.
CBT is a practical therapy focusing on particular problems with
the aim to overcome them. For this reason the more specific the problem, the more likely CBT can help. CBT is
sometimes used alone, and sometimes used in addition to medication depending on the type and severity of the
condition being treated.
What will happen during a
course of CBT?
The first session of therapy is for the therapist and you to
develop a shared understanding of the problem. The session will identify how your thoughts, ideas, feelings,
attitudes and behaviours affect your every day life.
A treatment plan will then be agreed as well as goals to be
achieved and the number of sessions you are likely to need. Each session will be 60 minutes and typically is
done once a week to begin with and can be less frequent further into the treatment. The amount of
sessions required will depend on the nature and severity of the condition, it is common to have between 6 and
You will take an active part in your therapy and will be given
homework between sessions. For example if you have a social phobia you may be asked to keep a diary of your
occurring thoughts before a social event.
How well does CBT
Clinical trials have shown CBT can help ease symptoms
of various health problems. The benefits of CBT can be long term rather than a quick fix as
the techniques involved can be used for the rest of your life to help keep symptoms away, meaning
depression and anxiety are less likely to return in the future.
What is the difference
between CBT and other talking therapies?
CBT unlike other therapies does not dwell on event in your past,
it focuses more on the here and now thought processes, though some exploration may be done into the past
where necessary to discover where thinking patterns may have started or come from. CBT is a structured,
problem focused and practical therapy.