What is CBT?


Cognitive and behavioural theories and CBT


CBT is underpinned by a range of different behavioural and cognitive theories, which empirically support the development and maintenance of mental disorders and more common psychological difficulties which we all experience. 

In particular, learning theories state that the way we behave and operate is guided by behaviour we have learnt was helpful during our life time and informs how we respond in certain situations in the presence. CBT is furthermore supported by cognitive theories, which suggest that our behaviour is further informed by the beliefs we have formed about ourselves, about our relationships and how we understand our environment.
Both behaviours and our beliefs can furthermore either be triggered by, or lead to certain emotions and thus have a direct effect on our mental health.



Basic principles of CBT


Further to taking into consideration that the way we behave feel and respond in the presence is a product of what we have learnt during our life time, CBT is based on three straightforward principles: 


  1. Our thoughts and beliefs are connected to our behaviours, moods and physical experiences and to the events in our lives
  2. The perception of an event affects our emotional, behavioural and physiological
    responses to that event
  3. The way we respond to a re-occurring problematic situation - even though we might have the best intention to improve our situation - often maintains the problem.

CBT looks at how problems from the past are maintained in the “here and now”. It does this by having a closer look at the thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physical symptoms one experiences in problematic situations and how these link together. CBT then helps people to learn new methods of coping and problem solving which can be used for the rest of their lives.




If you would like to find out more about CBT, please visit the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), which is the leading organisation for CBT in the UK. The website has some useful information, particularly in their "Public" section, as well as a lots of links to other helpful resources.