TwitterThe Psychological Therapies Unit

Overview of CBT

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach which is used by psychologists and therapists to help promote positive change in individuals, to help alleviate emotional distress, and to address a myriad of psycho/social/behavioural issues.

Cognitive Behavioural therapists identify and treat difficulties arising from an individual's irrational thinking, misperceptions, dysfunctional thoughts, and faulty learning. The therapy can be conducted with individuals, families, or groups. Problems such as anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, low self esteem, adjustment difficulties, sleep disturbance, and post-traumatic stress are addressed. The goals are to restructure one's thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs. Such restructuring facilitates behavioural and emotional change. During therapy, coping skills and abilities are assessed and further developed.

Some specific techniques that the therapist may use include, but are not limited to:
  • Challenging irrational beliefs
  • Relaxation education and training
  • Self monitoring
  • Cognitive rehearsal
  • Thought stopping
  • Communication skills training
  • Assertiveness skills training
  • Social skills training
  • Homework assignments i.e. mutually agreed tasks carried out outside the therapy sessions
  • If appropriate, Hypnotherapy or relaxation techniques may be used after consultation with the client.
Clients are first evaluated to obtain a thorough history and background information to better understand the nature of the difficulties for which treatment is being sought. Clients may also be asked to complete assessment tools or questionnaires. Treatment usually takes place on a weekly basis, focusing on current issues. A treatment plan is completed to set goals and to monitor progress. The number of sessions varies with the type of difficulties being treated. Clients are expected to be active participants in their own therapy.