Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based talking therapy that concentrates on how an individual’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are connected. CBT helps individuals become aware of their thoughts and behaviors, with a focus on exploring how these impact their emotions. The “here and now” focus allows for the development of skills to identify and address unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors. As part of CBT, formulation (or case conceptualization) allows for the exploration of past experiences to gain an understanding of how predisposing factors may have underpinned the current links between experiences, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; and how that increases the individual’s vulnerability to developing mental health problems.
CBT is recommended as a first-line intervention for the treatment of mild to moderate depression and anxiety (NICE, 2014) and as an adjunct to medication management in the treatment of more serious mental health problems. CBT is a structured therapy with sessions that follow a similar course and outline regardless of the presenting problem. This outline includes: a review of the week; development of an agenda for the session; review of homework; cognitive and/or behavioral skill acquisition related to an identified problem area; and, finally, setting homework so that the client can practice these new skills in their own environment. The therapist may summarize the session or ask the client to do so and will request feedback so that subsequent sessions can be tailored to fit with what the client found most helpful. Adaptations to this format may be required depending on the client population. (Beck, 1995).