What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based psychological therapy and is one of the therapies available from clinicians at The Psychological Health Centre. The term Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is used to refer to any therapy that is based upon cognitive and/or behavioural principles. Researchers are continually developing and testing out new cognitive behavioural therapies and clinicians then adapt these to each individual they work with. Cognitive behavioural therapies are all:

  • developed and tested in research settings
  • informed by the latest science of psychology
  • goal focused, structured and relatively short term
  • practical and collaborative

Cognitive & Behavioural Principles

Behaviour Therapy is based on the principles of operant and classical conditioning. In a nutshell operant conditioning explains that behaviour that is followed by a reward is more likely to happen again. Classical conditioning explains that behaviours (and emotional responses) can be learned by a process of association. This may sound obvious and of course many of us observe and use these principles especially with our pets and also our children. However adults rarely look at their own behaviour in this way. Cognitive Behaviour Therapists are trained to look out for these patterns and use these principles to help people to change unhelpful habitual behaviours and reactions.

Cognitive Therapy is based on the observation that human behaviours and emotions are mediated by cognitions. The word cognition means thoughts, beliefs and interpretations as well as images. Simply put, this means that our reactions to things are often a result of the way we think about that thing. Cognitive therapists help people to observe their own cognitions and become aware of how these relate to their behaviours and feelings. In many cases cognitions are found to be unhelpful, overvalued or biased. Cognitive therapists have tools for helping people to reflect on their cognitions, evaluate and reconsider them and, if helpful, to change them.

CBT refers to any therapy that draws on both behavioural and cognitive principles.

Does CBT work?

Specific Cognitive Behavioural Therapies have been developed for most psychological problems and mental health conditions. There is a significant evidence base demonstrating that they are effective, particularly for conditions such as anxiety and depression and in many cases CBT is considered the “gold standard” for psychological treatment.

CBT is continually updated as psychological science and neuroscience develop. So there are new CBT methods being developed and trialled all of the time.

What is CBT like in practice?

CBT is a very practical and transparent therapy where the clinician and individual work together to achieve change. CBT always starts with an assessment and the development of a formulation to explain the problem. The formulation then guides the development of a treatment plan. This plan is collaborative. This means it brings together the individual’s specific goals and preferences with the clinician’s knowledge of the science. At all stages individuals are encouraged to collaborate in their treatment. In addition to one-hour sessions there are often “homework” tasks that might include self-monitoring, observation, and exercises.

Clinicians at The Psychological Health Centre are experienced in adapting this treatment to meet the needs of individuals and integrating CBT with other approaches that may complement it.

Contact us at The Psychological Health Centre for more information about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)