Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is now widely established as a highly effective form of psychological treatment. Extensive research has shown that it is effective in dealing with a wide range of psychological problems including depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) and effects of trauma.
Treatment begins with a full assessment of the presenting problem with a particular focus on thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with it. The client and therapist work collaboratively to gather information and create a model of the problem where a shared understanding leads to specific interventions to deal with the problem. Assessment will involve looking at the trigger, the behaviour and consequence of the problem. CBT therapists also look at the ways a problem is being maintained – where for example avoidance of situations prevents new learning.
CBT treatment is a short to medium term therapy; difficulties can usually be addressed with between 6 and 20 sessions. CBT techniques can address psychological difficulties such as panic attacks and phobias and change lives dramatically.
It has been shown to be very effective with children as well as adults.
Who could benefit from CBT?
Depression: This often occurs as a reaction to a stressful life event such as the loss of a job or bereavement. It is characterized by symptoms of worthlessness, loss of enjoyment, poor sleep and lack of energy. People may have gloomy irrational thoughts and CBT has well-established procedures, both cognitive and behavioural, to help people feel that they can break out of the cycle.
Anxiety and Worry: Stress can also produce a state of heightened anxiety with an exaggerated sense of danger. People lose confidence in their ability to deal with routine as they predict negative outcomes. Anxiety can lead to disabling panic attacks and CBT is again, well established in treating these quickly and effectively.
Phobias: Many people have suffered with disabling phobias, a fear, for example of public transport or social gatherings. CBT has very specific behavioural strategies to help people overcome these and resume life with more options.
Obsessions and Compulsions (OCD): This is essentially an extension of anxiety which results in people engaging in complex mental activities or physical behaviours. CBT can help people to understand the function of these behaviours and to learn to overcome them gradually.