Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapies are a group of modern related therapies which focus on the relationship between cognitions, emotions and behaviour.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has it's origins in the shorter term behavioural approaches that were developed to help World War II returning veterans with emotional difficulties.  During the 1960s there was a growing interest in the relationship between cognition and emotion and to therapeutic approaches that work with conscious thinking. More recently CBT has passed through what is called the 'third wave'.  Therapy incorporates exploration of how we think and the context in which we develop thinking styles as well as what we think and how this influences behaviour and emotion.  There is increasing focus on modifying the repeated strategies that underly the development of thought patterns.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapies have the following characteristics in common:

  • they are based on the model that cognitions influence emotion of emotional response.
  • they are relatively brief and time-limited.
  • a sound therapeutic relationship is necessary for effective therapy, but not the focus.
  • they are a collaborative effort between the therapist and patient
  • they are structured and directive.
  • they are based on an educational model.
  • homework forms a central part.

There is a robust evidence base to support the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in a broad range of mental health difficulties including, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, some eating disorders and psychosis.

These therapies were first used to treat adults, but there effectiveness in helping adolescents has become established. Adapted techniques are increasingly being used with younger children.

As Cognitive Behavoural Psychotherapists working with children and adolescents we are always mindful of the young person's stage of development. We modify our delivery, incorporating imagery, playful use of language and simple exercises to help children engage and find the process helpful in bringing about change. Particularly with younger adolescents we often involve family or carers in the work. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is most commonly employed with individuals but it can also be delivered in groups and cognitive and behavioural techniques can also be incorporated into  family therapy.