Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

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

Your stories

How CBT helped me beat the bully in my head.

Sarah blogs about how cognitive behaviour therapy helped her manage her anxiety disorder.

Posted on 27/11/2014

Therapy turned my life around

Dolly blogs about her successful therapy

Posted on 26/03/2010

Being diagnosed with depression

Posted on 25/09/2013

Is CBT right for me?

Although many people can benefit from CBT, not everyone finds it helpful. You might find that it just doesn't suit you, or doesn't meet your needs.

I think it can go either way. I've been through a long course of CBT a few years ago, and for some people it helped, whereas for others it didn't.

Before deciding to have CBT, it might be helpful to think about the following:

  • Is short-term therapy right for me? If you have severe or complex problems, you may find a short-term therapy like CBT is less helpful. Sometimes, therapy may need to go on for longer to cover fully the number of problems you have, and the length of time they've been around.
  • Am I comfortable thinking about my feelings? CBT can involve becoming aware of your anxieties and emotions. Initially, you may find this process uncomfortable or distressing.
  • How much time do I want to spend? CBT can involve exercises for you to do outside of your sessions with a therapist. You may find this means you need to commit your own time to complete the work over the course of treatment, and afterwards.
  • Do I have a clear problem to solve? You may find CBT is less suitable if you feel generally unhappy or unfulfilled, but don't have troubling symptoms or a particular aspect of your life you want to work on.

I found the first month so terrifying and draining because it dragged up things from the past that I never knew had impacted on me, but I stuck with it and it was worth it.

Comparisons with other types of short-term psychological therapy aren't clear-cut. Other talking treatments, for example psychodynamic therapy or interpersonal therapy, might also be effective. You can talk to your doctor about which treatment is most suitable for you.

I had previously tried this form of therapy when I was first diagnosed, which I didn’t find helpful ... however the second time I tried it, it completely changed my life.


This information was published in February 2015. We will revise it in 2018.

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