for better mental health

Cognitive behavioural thearapy (CBT)

Explains what cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is, what it is for, what happens during therapy and how to find a therapist.

Through the NHS

You might be able to access CBT on the NHS through:

  • Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). This is an NHS programme available in England which can provide CBT as a treatment for various mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. You can usually get in touch with them directly (self-refer). However, IAPT is not available in all areas and the waiting lists can be long. You can find out whether IAPT services are available near you through the NHS Choices website.
  • Your GP surgery. Some counsellors and psychologists offer CBT on the NHS at GP surgeries. Your GP may also be able to refer you to CBT in your area or give you a login for an online CBT programme.
  • Your community mental health team (CMHT). Some nurses, doctors, occupational therapists and clinical psychologists working in CMHTs may also provide CBT. (See our information on CMHTs)
  • Some NHS Trusts have specialist therapy services.

Your GP may be able to give you information about local services, including third sector support. (See our information on seeking help for a mental health problem and our talking treatments useful contacts for more information.)

"I still get anxious but CBT helped me to gain insight and perspective. It was the start of my journey to recovery, though not the only part. I did a 6 week CBT course through IAPT."

Through the private sector

You may want to consider seeing a therapist privately – but be aware that private therapists usually charge for appointments. You can find a private therapist through:

Your therapist's qualifications

It's good practice for a therapist to be a member of a professional body, such as the BACP, BABCP or The British Psychological Society (BPS). You can ask them about their professional qualifications and training. You can also check these with their professional body.

For more information about finding a therapist, see our pages on accessing talking treatments and seeking help through the private sector.

This information was published in October 2017. We will revise it in 2020.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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