About psychotherapy 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is one of a range of psychotherapy approaches designed to help people with emotional and psychological problems. CBT differs from other approaches in several ways. Firstly, the focus is more on the “here and now” compared with some other approaches where the focus is on past experiences and how they impact on the present.

Secondly, a CBT therapist will work with the client to identify how thoughts (cognitions), feelings and behaviour interact to create emotional distress, and this process will involve developing a kind of personal “map” sometimes called a formulation. Once this formulation has been developed, therapist and client will use the formulation as a basis for working together to identify key changes that can be made. The changes that are identified will often involve setting targets for the client to try outside of therapy and the client will feed back the results to the therapist in order to adapt future therapy goals.

Although listening and developing a good therapeutic relationship is as crucial for a CBT therapist as any other, CBT therapists tend to be more ‘active’ than other psychological therapists, with the focus on helping the client make planned changes on order to overcome distress.

CBT therapy therefore tends to be more short-term than some other approaches, and typically therapy contracts will involve 10 to 20 sessions, with occasional “top-up” sessions where necessary.

CBT has been found to be effective with a variety of difficulties, in particular those relating to anxiety and mild depression. More complex difficulties can be treated by CBT therapists who may adapt the approach accordingly, with longer contracts being agreed.

Some people prefer the active problem-solving approach that typifies CBT, whereas others find the more exploratory and reflective style of other therapies more to their taste, However, there is now an increasing amount of evidence which is demonstrating that it is the quality of the relationship between the client and the therapist that is most important, rather than the specific therapy approach that is practiced, and so all potential clients should keep this in mind when deciding on which therapist they would like to work with.


Link to United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy Link to British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Link to British Psychoanalytic Council

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