Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy based on the idea that the way we think, feel and perceive certain situations, influences our behaviour. CBT therapy helps with ongoing problems such as, low mood, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, relationship problems, insomnia, excessive feelings of anger, stress or other difficulties that negatively affect mental health and quality of life. The aim of treatment is to help us notice and change distorted thoughts and beliefs in order to alter our reactions in difficult situations.
CBT is suitable for children, adolescents and adults, as well as families and couples. Many studies have shown it to be highly or moderately effective in treating depression, anxiety disorders, post- traumatic stress disorder PTSD, general stress, anger control problems, insomnia, panic attacks, agoraphobia, social phobia, eating disorders, difficulties in close relationships, obsessive-compulsive disorder and childhood anxiety and depressive disorders. CBT can also be effective as an intervention for chronic pain, psychosomatic symptoms and associated stress. CBT therapy can be used alone or in combination with pharmacology. CBT psychotherapy can be attended in person or online – both forms show similar levels of effectiveness.
CBT is a structured form of psychotherapy – therapist works according to treatment protocols that have been scientifically tested for effectiveness, for example: depression or panic attacks. A psychotherapy session usually lasts 50 minutes. Psychotherapy begins with a consultation process – first 2-3 sessions are a detailed diagnostic interview and psychological diagnosis, in order to returnnwith a psychotherapy plan and possible additional recommendations (e.g. visit to a psychiatrist, diagnosis of autism spectrum etc.). At the beginning of the psychotherapy process, the therapist and the client agree on a so-called therapeutic contract – frequency and location of sessions, payments, cancellation rules, as well as other issues that are important to both parties.
A CBT psychotherapist is a person who is in the process of, or has completed, a comprehensive 4- year psychotherapeutic training in the cognitive-behavioural stream and is subject to supervision. During psychotherapy, the therapist helps the client to notice and recognise the thoughts and beliefs that are hindering daily functioning, and helps the client to learn how to deal more effectively with emotion regulation and thought busyness. The CBT therapist pays attention to psychoeducation and neuroscience – how our brain and thought processes work. Importantly – the CBT therapist listens, supports and matches tools/exercises to the client's goals. It is the client who is the expert on their life and the therapist who is the expert in the context of treating mental health difficulties, according to CBT psychotherapy methods.