What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an empirically based short-term treatment approach that is both structured and collaborative. It is based on a scientific understanding of the relationship between thoughts, emotions and behaviours.  This approach focuses on identifying and changing unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving, with the aim of improving our emotional experiences.  More specifically, the aim of CBT is to understand how we interpret and process situations in which we experience distress, and to identify behaviours we may adopt that are unhelpful.  Becoming more aware of our thinking, as well as the impact our thinking has on our mood and behaviour, can help lead to important behavioural changes. 


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is both time-limited and structured.  The focus in CBT is also primarily to deal with current difficutlies as opposed to past events.  The focus of therapy is on the here and now and change is brought about through collaborative problem solving, with the therapist providing the structure and the client being actively engaged in identifying treatment goals.  Being objective and structured helps in effectively guiding the process from assessment, through to intervention, and then monitoring and evaluation.  As well, it allows to make the goals and targets of  the intervention explicit.  Keeping the intervention brief assists in promoting self-help skills and independence.


Numerous studies and reviews have shown that CBT is an effective treatment for psychological problems in both children and adults.  Its usefulness has been demonstrated in treating anxiety disorders, mood disorders, phobias, and a range of other problems. 

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