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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Liverpool and North West

You may have heard about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) before or this might be the first time you have come across it.  But what is CBT and how is it different to other types of talking therapies?  What kinds of problems is CBT an effective treatment for and how does it work?

Let’s find out.

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of psychotherapy which aims to resolve problems by identifying and changing unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaviour.

The main idea is that our problems can be broken down into different parts and each of these parts can be worked with therapeutically to bring about a positive change.

Rather than just talking about problems, CBT is a very active and skill based type of therapy.  By the end of treatment, you will have a set of new skills and techniques which you can continue to use in future should the problem ever arise again.  Essentially, you are given the tools to become your own therapist!

CBT has been shown to be an effective type of treatment for a wide range of different problems including Depression, Generalised Anxiety, OCD, Social Anxiety, Low self-esteem, PTSD and other trauma related issues.

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How does CBT work?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy works by teaching you techniques and skills to challenge unhelpful thinking patterns and problem behaviours.

The “C” in CBT, the “Cognitive” bit, refers to anything that happens in our minds.  This includes things like specific thoughts and memories and also processes like worry, rumination and attention.  The “B”, Behavioural, bit relates to anything which we do in response to, or within the context of, an event which leads to a specific outcome.  We are also interested in the emotions that occur in the problem, the changes that occur in our body and the situations which may trigger the problem.

Once we have broken down a problem into thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physical changes, then we are able to tailor specific techniques (sometimes also called interventions) to fix each part of the problem.  The idea being that, by fixing one area, this will have a positive impact upon the other areas of the problem.

This diagram shows shows us just one of the ways that CBT breaks down a problem into parts and how they are linked together.  This is called a 5 areas formulation, sometimes also called a descriptive formulation.

Follow this link to find out how to do your own 5 areas assessment.

CBT 5 Areas formulation

What does CBT treatment involve?

Since it was first developed, the actual “treatments” that make up CBT have expanded significantly.  Generally, however, CBT can be summed up as a “here and now” therapy, in that we don’t necessarily believe that the answers to our problems lie in the past, but rather they are solved by changing the things that we think and do in the present day.

CBT is a very active type of therapy.  You will typically see your therapist on a weekly basis but you will both agree on a treatment exercise for you to carry out between sessions.  This could be in the form of a symptom monitoring diary, or a new activity or some form of behavioural experiment or another exercise.  People who actively carry out these between session tasks tend to recover faster and with less chance of relapse.

Also CBT is a collaborative type of therapy.  This means that the problem is shared between you and the therapist.  The therapist is not going to say that they can “fix” you – instead you will develop an equal partnership with your therapist to tackle your problem.  The therapist will bring their skill set as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, and you will bring yourself, your experiences and your desire to change.

As CBT has developed over the years, it has been tested against many different types of problems and diagnoses and has been found to be an effective treatment for many of them.  As such, CBT is often referred to as an “evidence-based” type of therapy, and you will be using CBT approaches that have been spcifically developed for many of these specific problems.

Take a look at some of the CBT problems on this site to see how CBT can be used to treat problems like depression, anxiety, panic, OCD, Social Phobia, low self-esteem and PTSD.