When things go wrong in life it’s easy to find fault with yourself, but if you get stuck in a repetitive spiral of negative thinking you can end up feeling hopeless, depressed and physically exhausted.
This is where cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help. Unlike other forms of psychotherapy, CBT focuses specifically on the problems and difficulties that you are experiencing now, rather than issues based in the past. CBT is based on the theory that it is not events themselves that upset you, but the meanings you attach to them. This can start to cause you problems if you continue to hold on to the same thoughts and patterns of behaviour while failing to see the alternative explanation. CBT aims to show you ways of changing negative thoughts and composing alternative ways of thinking about your situation, all of which will make you feel better.
In simple terms, CBT is a form of psychotherapy which combines cognitive and behavioural therapies. The cognitive element looks specifically at how our thoughts can create our feelings and mood, and the behavioural therapy component examines the relationship between our behaviours and thoughts. It is one of the most effective treatments available for conditions where anxiety or depression is the main problem, even matching the effectiveness of antidepressants in some cases.
In fact, based on numerous studies showing its effectiveness, the Government’s NICE guidelines recommend CBT as a treatment for a number of mental health issues, and it has also been successful in helping with obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, anger problems, habits (such as facial tics), drug and alcohol abuse, relationship problems and even sleep issues.
CBT has also been used to help people with chronic health conditions such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and although it cannot cure these physical problems, it can help individuals who have long-term conditions to be better able to cope with their symptoms. The number of cognitive therapy sessions depends on your presenting issues. Cognitive behavioural therapy tends to be short term when the presenting issues are non-complex. At the first consultation you can discuss how many sessions may be indicated.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is not a quick fix or an instant miracle cure, but one of the greatest benefits of CBT is that you can continue to use the skills in future situations to prevent escalating spirals of negative thought.