Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Psychological .

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy which can help to reduce distress and improve your ability to function. The way Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be accessed has changed a lot; people can access CBT online and over the telephone as well as face to face contact with a therapist.

How does CBT work?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) works by breaking down the issue into smaller parts. This is a useful technique as it allows the therapist to work with you to identify how the issue affects you emotionally, psychologically, physically and what behavioural responses you have towards that issue. Often people get stuck in a pattern of repeated thinking behaviour which can be unhelpful or often negative.

CBT works by challenging the way you think about certain issues and changing it. CBT encourages you to reframe your thought process and explore alternative ways of thinking which can improve decision making.

Why might you need CBT?

CBT focuses specifically on the difficulties or issues that you are experiencing at the present time.  These issues and difficulties may come from recent events, worries or anxieties about the future, or experiences from the past. This makes it different from other forms of therapy.

What problems can it help with?

Research has shown that CBT is an effective treatment for a wide range of challenges, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and other anxiety disorders (such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder)
  • Panic attacks and Panic Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Eating disorders such an anorexia and bulimia.
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sleep Problems (including Insomnia, Nightmares/Night Terrors)
  • Anger and Emotional Management
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Chronic Pain and Illnesses

CBT can be used with school-aged children and youth with a stronger focus on behaviour so can be used with children aged 4 and above. CBT helps children and youth become more aware of their thoughts, actions and feelings so they can view difficult situations more clearly and respond more effectively. Research has shown that children and youth experiencing anxiety and depression are less likely to relapse when treated with CBT.

How many sessions would I need?

It hard to say how many sessions you would need as everybody will require different intensity of CBT dependent on their complexity of their current issues. It is important for the therapist working with you works with you to help you identify what your goals are so that the sessions can take a person centred approach working towards them.

CBT is usually a short term treatment; often it is delivered in weekly 60 minute sessions spread out over 12 weeks.

Sessions may be weekly depending on your goals and what you are wanting to achieve. Each session will explore thoughts, feelings and behaviour about things which may have happened recently and exploring how you can manage these situations effectively in the future.

What are the benefits of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

One of the benefits of CBT with My Family Psychologist is that we can offer an inclusive environment working with you to develop your skills and use them actively to reduce the chances of negative thoughts or unhelpful thinking patterns spiralling in future situations.

CBT Case Study

JD is a 20 year old woman who became known to mental health services when she was 19 years old. She self-referred following years of being experiencing intense feelings of worry and anxiety.

Past History

She was a happy child growing up and apart from the separation of her parents when she was 13 years old, she had not experienced any other particularly distressing life events. She was sociable at school and got on well with most of her peers. She worked hard in school and achieved good grades on her GCSEs and A levels. She engaged in activities outside of school including performing arts.

Despite this, during her teenage years, she began to engage in self harming behaviour and had constant fears that something bad was going to happen to her or her family. She experienced panic attacks and often would experience nausea and sickness. She would fail to meet deadlines because she feared her work would not be good enough.

She experienced intense fluctuating emotions and found it hard to regulate her them, often causing her to self-harm or shut herself off in order to cope.  She never spoke to her family or friends about this. She had thoughts about ending her life, although never followed through with this as she was scared about how this would impact her family.


During assessment, she was found to meet the criteria for GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and borderline bi-polar. JD expressed that she struggled to sleep through ruminating thoughts and that she experienced physical sensations in her body including shaking and finding it hard to breathe.

The therapist decided that the best course of action would be to engage with Talking Therapies alongside being prescribed different anti-anxiety medication (SSRI – Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Medication).

JD decided that she wanted to engage in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and consider different medication in the future.


JD began working with a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist over the phone. They had weekly telephone consultations and JD was sent some self-help guides to work through to work through her anxiety and diagnosis (This was done through psycho-education about her condition).

JD focused on addressing her thought processes and changing the way she thought about scenarios. The therapist worked with JD to challenge her thoughts and replace them with more helpful outcomes.

JD also began to think more realistically about her thoughts; JD often had thoughts that if she left the house for work, something bad would happen to her so she started asking herself, ‘What is the worst thing that could happen if I get on the bus and go to work?’.

She was able to break that cycle of unhelpful thinking to reduce her risk of experiencing unhelpful thoughts which lead to her experiencing physical symptoms of panic attacks.

JD also addressed her coping strategies in regards to her emotion management and self-harm behaviour. She began using positive self-talk to manage her emotions and re-framing her mindset so that she was able to think more positively and realistically. 

JD had weekly sessions for one hour over 12 week period.

If you would like to know more about how My Family Psychologist can help, call us on 07801 079555 or email

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