Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be used to treat a range of conditions (please see “Help for” section)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment, a “talking therapy”. Different CBT models have been developed for working with different issues or difficulties, but generally the approach focuses on developing a deeper understanding of the thought patterns and behaviours maintaining a problem. CBT aims to help you understand how your problems began and what keeps them going. CBT works by helping you to link the way that you think (your thoughts, beliefs and assumptions), with how you feel (your emotions) and what you do (your behaviour).

What you think

What you feel

What you do

Why does CBT help?

Our thoughts and emotions often cause us problems. For example:

Situation: Your friend doesn’t ring you

Unhelpful thoughts

They don’t like me


You feel sad


Feel sick


You don’t go to your friend’s party

Helpful thoughts

Something is wrong


Worried about your friend


You feel fine


You ring – they had lost their mobile

The key point is that sometimes our thoughts are unhelpful and sometimes they are not accurate. This pattern of thinking can lead to many problems.

The goal of CBT is to help you learn a more balanced way of thinking and to change any unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving.

What will CBT do for me?

CBT helps you understand the link between your thoughts, emotions and behaviour. This is important because sometimes, when you talk about things that are difficult, you may feel worse to begin with. It teaches you skills:

to overcome these problematic thoughts, emotions and behaviour

to find ways of overcoming negative thinking and challenging unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts or beliefs.

CBT is not about thinking more positively!

CBT helps the way you feel to improve what you think and what you do.

By being able to approach situations in a more balanced way, you will hopefully be more effective in solving your problems and feel more in control of your life.

If I agree to take part in CBT, what will I have to do?

If you are offered CBT, you will be expected to meet with your therapist regularly, either weekly or fortnightly. To help your therapist to understand your difficulties, you will be asked to complete some questionnaires or worksheets. These may be repeated throughout your treatment. Your therapist will monitor how you are getting on.

The therapist will help you understand your problems and teach you ways of dealing with them. You will be expected to practise them outside of your therapy (for example, at work or college or at home). This means that tasks or homework will be set at the end of the meeting. You may be given worksheets to help remind you of what you need to do.

Why do I have to do homework?

Unfortunately, you cannot learn to ride a bike by reading a book. Any skill you want to learn requires practise.

CBT will help you learn:

how to overcome negative thoughts (she doesn’t like me)

unhelpful behaviours (not going to the party)

difficult emotions (feeling sad)

It is important to practise the CBT skills you are taught for the following reasons:

to be sure that you understand them;

to check that you can use them when you need to (e.g. when you are feeling upset about something);

so that any problems you may have in using these skills can be worked on in your therapy.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be used to treat a wide range of problems (please see “Help for” section for more information on particular issues).