Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

There is a great deal of research evidence to show that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) works effectively in treating a variety of mental health problems. This research has been carefully reviewed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE guidance) who advises psychologists and therapist about the most effective and recommended treatment for a wide range of mental health problems.


The emphasis in CBT is to help you develop better coping strategies to reduce your symptoms. This might include helping you to deal better with certain emotions, but also often includes exposing you to certain situations and emotions which you might have been avoiding for some time. Any interventions and coping strategies are planned and discussed in detail with your therapist, so you feel comfortable and ready to put this into practice.


During therapy you will learn to look at your thoughts and beliefs and to understand the link to your behaviours, mood and physical reactions.


CBT looks at how problems from the past are maintained in the “here and now” and the main focus is to change or reduce what is maintaining a problem. This usually includes changing thinking patterns, changing behaviour and improving helpful coping strategies. In turn, the latter changes lead to a reduction in unhelpful emotions, such as chronic anxiety, depression and lack of energy.

CBT helps people to learn new methods of coping and problem solving which can be used for the rest of their lives.

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.


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.




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.