Congitive behavioural therapy is regularly used to help treat anxiety, depression, OCD and eating disorders. We take a look of what it entails and whether it works
What is it?
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a type of talking therapy that focuses on your negative thoughts (cognitions) and resulting actions (behaviours), and addresses how these can be challenged to change the way you think about things.
It’s designed to help you deal with a problem in a more positive way and is a practical therapy that involves some work from the person being treated. In simple terms, the idea is that if you can change the way you think, you can change the way you feel.
Who uses it?
People experiencing depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and some eating disorders may use CBT. You can be referred to CBT by your GP for free, or can find a private therapist independently.
What does it involve?
CBT sessions can be carried out in person with a qualified therapist; remotely, as part of an online learning programme; or alone using self-help books.
In general, you’ll work to break down problems in to small parts to identify patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviours. You will then work out how you can go about changing these unhelpful thoughts and actions.
CBT does involve some effort from the person being treated—by going away and practicing these changes in everyday life. A course of one-to-one therapy can range from once a week for six weeks to up to six months, or perhaps longer, depending on the problem being treated.
Is it effective?
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, CBT is one of the most effective treatments for conditions where depression or anxiety are the main problem.
Studies have shown that CBT is at least as effective as some medication for some forms of depression
What are the pros?
Because CBT can be carried out remotely and independently, it’s a very accessible treatment. If conducted in this way, can be accessed quickly. This also means there’s less reliance on a therapist and more on self-powered positive change, which many people like.
What about the cons?
Because CBT involves working independently to try and change behaviours, it is not a quick fix and can require effort.
It can be difficult for people who are experiencing depression, for example, to feel motivated to do the ‘homework’ involved.
However, treatment is a highly personal experience, so though CBT might be right for some, others will find other treatments more effective.