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C is for CBT

Author: null null Published: 8th June 2012 20:13

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is probably the most well-established talking therapy used in the mental health services. There is now a great deal of research evidence demonstrating its effectiveness in treating common mental ill-health such as depression and anxiety, and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends its use. It works by helping people change their attitudes as well as their behaviour. The model is based on using cognitive therapy to explore the links between our thoughts and our feelings or mood, and behavioural therapy to consider the relationship between our thoughts and our behaviour.

CBT differs from some other talking therapies by focusing on the ‘here and now' problems and difficulties rather than looking for the causes of distress in the past. It teaches you a set of skills which you can use in the future to help deal with any further problems which arise. CBT is also a relatively short term therapy, anywhere between 6 weeks and 6 months, with weekly meetings and homework to do in between sessions.

This diagram demonstrates how CBT identifies the links between the ‘situation', ‘thoughts', ‘feelings' and ‘actions'.

Although the evidence of effectiveness is good, CBT doesn't help everyone. Availability on the NHS is limited and varies from area to area. However it's approach also lends itself to on-line programmes which have had some success.

MoodGYM is a free on-line programme, developed by the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University, which you can sign up for. This provides information, quizzes, games and skills training based on CBT principles to help prevent depression. For more information about this, go to


‘Beating the Blues' or ‘Firefighter' for panic and anxiety problems are also computerised CBT based programmes, available via the NHS but only through GP recommendation.

For more information about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, try this website


Click here for more information about local workshops on good mental health coming up soon

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