Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.  It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

How CBT works

CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.  CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts.  You’re shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.

What happens during CBT sessions

If CBT is recommended, you’ll work with your therapist to break down your problems into their separate parts, such as your thoughts, physical feelings and actions.  You and your therapist will analyse these areas to work out if they’re unrealistic or unhelpful, and to determine the effect they have on each other and on you.  Your therapist will then be able to help you work out how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.  After working out what you can change, your therapist will ask you to practise these changes in your daily life and you’ll discuss how you got on during the next session.  The eventual aim of therapy is to teach you to apply the skills you have learnt during treatment to your daily life.  This should help you manage your problems and stop them having a negative impact on your life, even after your course of treatment finishes.”