letter spelling out CBT which stands for cognitive behavioural therapy

What Is CBT?

Most people have heard of CBT but there are many people who are unsure about what it actually is and how it works. It has been scientifically proven to be effective for issues like depression, anxiety, panic disorder, anger, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, you may be unsure exactly what CBT is and how it works to help people overcome these and other issues.

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Let’s start with the name itself. CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. ‘Cognitive’ refers to your mind and the way it thinks. ‘Behavioural’ refers to the way in which you feel and act (or behave) because of the way you think. And lastly, ‘Therapy’ refers to the process of getting help to relieve or resolve the issues caused by thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Changing how you think, changes how you feel

Simply put, CBT is based the on the fact that by changing the way you think, you can change the way you feel. And by changing how you feel you can change the decisions you make and the actions you take. This in turn changes your experience of life.

I have successfully used CBT to help many clients overcome their feelings of anxiety, come out of depression, conquer panic attacks or improve their relationships (both personally and professionally).

How does CBT work?

Now that we’re clear what CBT is, let’s look at an example of how it works. (I have changed the name and personal details to respect client confidentiality).

John, 34, has recently split up with his girlfriend of three years. He came to see because he is becoming increasingly depressed and withdrawn.

"I don’t understand why this is happening to me.

No one cares about me because I’m boring and stupid"

John had stopped meeting up with friends and was only now leaving the house to go work. But he had begun to get picked up by his boss for being late and making “stupid” mistakes, telling me...
"I know they’re going to fire me because I’m useless at my job, so what’s the point of trying or being on time"

Using CBT, John and I started to look at how his critical self-talk or ‘automatic negative thoughts’ (“no one cares about me”) was contributing to how he was feeling (depressed) and how he was behaving (not going out or meeting up with friends). That this in turning was making him feel worse, creating a vicious cycle into isolation and despair.

We investigated whether there was evidence to prove this automatic negative thought, “no one cares about me?”  In fact, there wasn’t. Yes, his relationship had ended but his friends, family and also several of his colleagues were regularly getting in touch to ask how he was or invite him out. 

John was able to see that believing his automatic negative thoughts not only made him feel worse, it also made him ignore or reject these approaches. This is turn created the very situation he most feared, being alone. As John and I continued to work together we began to examine the negative underlying assumptions and unhelpful underlying beliefs that underpinned these automatic negative thoughts.

This is a very quick and simplified illustration of how CBT helped John us to identify, challenge and correct his unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving. This enabled him to overcome his anxiety and move out of depression, and start enjoying life again. 

CBT is highly practical

As you can see, the good thing about CBT is that it is:

  • highly practical – we will identify the proven techniques that are best for you,
  • based on evidence – there is a great deal of scientific research into the effectiveness of CBT and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guidelines recommend it as an evidence-based treatment for depression and anxiety disorders,
  • structured – we will work together at the pace and speed that’s right for you,
  • and, focused on the present moment – our focus is not resolving past issue but on how you choose to think and behave now. 

Our mind plays tricks on us and we quickly fall into unhelpful habits of thinking, feeling and behaving. CBT helps us to spot these tricks and to understand the connection between our thoughts, moods and behaviours. What’s more it gives us the tools to change and grow, so that we can create a brighter happier future. 

How much does CBT cost?

You can find out more about CBT fees here.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how CBT can help you to change your life, please get in touch. 

About the author

Tobias Oliver is an experience CBT practitioner. He is a certified hypno-oncology therapist, is registered with the NCH, CNHC & NCP. Tobias is trained in a wide range of physical and mental therapies which he adapts to each client he works with.