About CBT

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a shorter-term psychological therapy with a strong evidence base to demonstrate its efficacy.  The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT for depression and anxiety disorders and this is based on substantial, rigorous research.

Formulation-driven CBT carefully tailored to individual need can be an elegant and highly effective choice of treatment for emotional difficulties.

CBT works from the principle that it is the meaning that you give to a situation or thought that affects how you feel and what you do.  Your feelings and behaviour also drive what you think which can keep you locked in outdated and unhelpful patterns or vicious cycles;  this occurs when you become caught up in unhelpful emotional states or thinking styles.  As CBT research gains speed we also understand that cognitions need to be addressed in their broadest sense, for example:

  • Memory in the form of distressing images

 In Post Traumatic Stress Disorder a person can relive a traumatic event repeatedly because the brain had too much information to take in at the time of the trauma and hasn't fully 'filed' or processed the memory yet.

Whilst CBT primarily works with the 'here and now'  we need to be alert to core beliefs and assumptions which were conditioned earlier in your life.  Increasingly there is evidence to show that in hard to treat cases visceral memory scripts (those memories that engage all our senses) need to be accessed and re-scripted in order to promote well-being.  McKay et al has a very helpful chapter in their book 'Thoughts and Feelings - Taking Control of your Moods and your Life', entitled 'Changing Core Beliefs with Visualization'

  • Beliefs about thoughts 

At times you may decide that having a fear-related thought automatically represents a real threat rather than recognizing that when you are having a stray, silly thought, it needs to be ignored.  Engaging with certain thoughts can accelerate their power for activating negative emotion and this then interferes with your ability to think with clarity.

  • Types of processing e.g. worry and rumination

If you suffer with generalized anxiety then it is likely that you frequently invent virtual realities where various worst case scenarios are conjured up leading to time consuming worry, procrastination and avoidance.  In depression, you are likely to repeatedly run through memories associated with failure and disappointment and compound negative mood.  Both these thought processes are common and misleadingly give a sense of problem solving but neither are productive.  Firstly you need to be aware of getting caught up in these processes and then discover how they may be dropped or resolved using  techniques tailored to individual need.