Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy - commonly known as CBT - is a type of therapy that works by helping you to understand that your thoughts and actions can affect the way you feel.

It teaches you to observe the way your behavior and thoughts can affect your mood, then work to build new habits that help you to feel better.

How does CBT work?

CBT is a talking therapy based on scientific methods. After medication it is the most effective treatment for reducing the symptoms of almost all mental health problems but especially anxiety and depression. When used to treat anxiety disorders it has also been found to improve overall quality of life.

CBT can help you to stop negative cycles of thoughts, behaviour and emotions by helping you to notice what is making you feel anxious, unhappy or frightened and helping you to manage these factors.

By helping you to work out what to change to improve your mood, CBT can allow you to take control of your mental health.

What conditions are treated with CBT?

It can tackle a range of problems including depressionanxietyobsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)eating disorderspost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia. The therapy usually takes place in a series of clearly structured sessions, either with a therapist or as part of a self-help programme. Unlike most traditional talking therapies, CBT sessions focus on current problems and practical solutions rather than problems from your past.

Treatment is usually short term and for a set length of time (between 6 and 24 one-hour sessions). CBT is sometimes offered on the NHS, especially for treating common problems such as depression and anxiety, and is beneficial for people who want a therapy that works towards solutions, with clear goals and using practical techniques.