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What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and how does it work?

There are many strategies when it comes to managing your mental health.

Cognitive behavioural therapy, more commonly known as CBT, is usually used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

CBT focuses on the way people think and act to help them with their emotional and behavioural problems.

Here’s our overview of what CBT involves, how it works and what it’s been shown to help with.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

It combines cognitive therapy (examining the things you think about) and behaviour therapy (examining the things you do).

Mind, the mental health charity, has put together this helpful video to make sense of CBT.

How does CBT work?

CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, feelings and actions are connected.

If you interpret a situation negatively, and these negative thoughts and feelings go unchallenged, they can result in behaviours that will trap you in a vicious cycle of negativity.

CBT involves working with a therapist to identify and challenge any negative thinking patterns and behaviours which may be causing difficulties. It allows you to identify your problems and set specific goals for how you would rather be living your life. 

Unlike some talking treatments, CBT deals with current problems, rather than focusing on the past. It teaches you techniques to identify errors in the way you may be thinking and to adopt more helpful thoughts, attitudes, philosophies and beliefs.

Experimenting with your behaviours, trying things out, and other strategies can be incorporated into your life to improve your day-to-day functioning and living. 

Many CBT practices make every day good sense. They are straightforward, practical approaches to help you overcome problems. 

What can CBT help to treat?

CBT is often used, alongside medical approaches, for the treatment of anxiety and depression. However, it can be used to help people with:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias
  • Eating Disorders
  • Sleep Problems
  • Addiction
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What happens in a CBT session?

Typically, a client receives between five and twenty CBT sessions weekly or fortnightly. Each session can last between 30 and 60 minutes.

During a session, you and your therapist will work to break down your problems into thoughts, physical feelings and actions.

By analysing these, you can work out the effect they have on you. Then, with your therapist, you can decide how to change the unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

After working out what you can change, the aim of CBT is for you to apply the skills you’ve learnt and use them in your daily life.

If coronavirus restrictions mean that face-to-face meetings aren’t possible, CBT sessions can easily be adapted to virtual meetings.

More information about CBT

You can find further advice about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy from:

The NHS website

The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)

Mind, the mental health charity

If you’d like to find out how our occupational health services can help businesses manage the mental wellbeing of their employees, contact the team at Fusion today.

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Categories: Health & WellbeingMental HealthOccupational Health

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