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What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

posted by Rob on Thursday, 7 June 2018

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and How Does It Work?

It’s a misconception, you know, that all people with mental illness need is a good shoulder to cry on sometimes, it’s about taking action. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) loves to take action!

CBT is a talking therapy focused on altering your mindset. Its aim is to confront negative thoughts and behaviour patterns by teaching you practical coping strategies. These techniques improve your state of mind and give you the power to take control of your illness to get your life back on track. While it’s commonly used to treat anxiety or depression, CBT benefits other physical and mental conditions, too.

CBT is a combination of two therapies: cognitive and behavioural, which examine your thoughts and actions. Together, they provide an optimal solution for people suffering from mental health problems. And patients who stay with the program are often rewarded with improved mental health and coping mechanisms. You can learn key CBT skills with our Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Level 3 qualification.

CBT believes our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are connected.

Mental Health Problems in the UK

Did you know that in the UK alone, roughly 1 in 4 adults confront a mental health problem every year? That’s around 13 million adults who could receive better support on a daily basis. Shocking, we know!
However, there are an unlimited number of factors that can negatively impact your mindset. Some common reasons for mental deterioration are job stress, financial worry or being a victim of bullying.

In the UK, roughly 1 in 4 adults experience some form of mental health problem each year.

While we all encounter periods of discontent, we’re resilient beings and often bounce back. However, bouncing back isn’t easy for someone with mental illness. Everything becomes difficult to cope with and they develop issues that prevent them from leading an ordinary life – this is where CBT can help.

CBT is one treatment that has helped people cope since the concept was pioneered by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. In 2013-14, 38% of appointments for adults in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme* were for CBT treatment. That’s around 3 billion appointments.

* The IAPT programme was launched in 2008 to treat adults with psychological problems. Accessible on the NHS, it has dramatically improved the state of mental health in the UK.

Below, we’ll introduce a few mental health problems that can benefit from regular CBT treatment. Do you recognise any of them? Perhaps you identify with one or two. Or maybe you know of someone: a family member, friend or neighbour, who’ve displayed traits associated with these conditions.

12 Mental Health Problems treatable by CBT:

While some disorders, like depression, are widely discussed and have obvious characteristics. CBT has proven to be an effective way to deal with a range of mental health problems. Some of them you will have heard of, others you might not have even considered disorders. Also, this list is not exhaustible.

  1. Anger Disorders Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)
  2. Panic and Anxiety Disorders e.g. Hypochondria
  3. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  4. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  5. Post Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  6. Phobias e.g. Agoraphobia (fear of public spaces)
  7. Schizophrenia
  8. Psychosis
  9. Sexual and Relationship Problems
  10. Eating Disorders (Anorexia and Bulimia)
  11. Sleep Problems (Insomnia)
  12. Alcohol and Drug Abuse

CBT has also been known to alleviate physical conditions such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, CBT cannot cure physical ailments.

Around 3 billion appointment for adults in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme (IAPT) were for CBT treatment.

Awareness and Delivery of CBT

Mental health is a widely-recognised topic that cannot be ignored. Just switch on your television. You’ll encounter programmes revealing its alarming effects. Netflix even released a radical teenage drama series 13 Reasons Why that explores the destructive effects of mental health and suicide.

Such coverage has driven the need for greater treatment, and, as such more options have become available. Depending on your condition and preference for therapy, treatments are delivered through:

  • Private Therapy: Work individually with your own personal therapist to solve your problems
  • Group Therapy: Talk through issues with people in the same boat. E.g. Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Online Therapy: Work through an online self-help plan to improve your state of mind
  • Home Therapy: There are self-help books, online services, and phone and email counselling

Five prominent areas CBT tackles are situations, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. By actively targeting each area, therapists can set attainable goals that slowly improve a patient’s ability to cope, even after treatment has finished.

Personal sessions are just one form of CBT treatment you can receive.

Three types of treatment: Exposure therapy, CBT Sessions and Computerised CBT.

Exposure Therapy

It’s possible to condition yourself to fear situations, thus leading to negative and avoidant behaviour. Exposure therapy aims to break this mindset by exposing you to the things you fear in a safe setting. Various studies have documented CBT’s efficiency to treat disorders like OCD, PTSD and Phobias. e.g. Someone with Arachnophobia  exposing them to spiders and showing what little threat spiders pose in the scheme of things. Exposure slowly builds tolerance to things you fear to improve your lifestyle.

CBT Sessions

Sessions are designed to identify problems negatively impacting your life. Then it’s a case of planning each accordingly. You’ll partake in one-to-ones, exercises and techniques inside and outside the office to help you overcome these issues. Based on the severity of your condition, sessions run from 5 – 20 weeks, at 30-60 minutes at a time. Sessions are bespoke, so fit how you want to improve your lifestyle.

Computerised CBT

There’s options to work through your problems at home with professional software packages. These self-help programmes will give you everything you need to manage your problems. However, you’ll have the option to speak with a therapist on occasion to monitor your progress. One great programme currently offered by the NHS is Beating the Blues, which helps treat people with mild depression.

Around 13 million adults are struggling to cope with day-to-day life in the UK.

How do I get CBT treatment?

If you’re feeling like you can’t cope, seek help. Generally, there’s two avenues: the NHS or Private Sector.

Firstly, it’s strongly recommended that you visit your GP before jumping to any conclusions or paying cash to therapists offering CBT services. A doctor can talk you through those initial steps to identify what’s right for you. Whether that’s through an NHS IAPT programme or, if you prefer, a privately recognised association with fully accredited therapists.

IAPT Programme

If you opt to wait and receive treatment through the NHS, you can partake in an IAPT programme, which is available in some areas of England. Remember, CBT is a common treatment

Other options for therapy through the NHS might include:

  • GP Surgery – Plenty of surgeries offer therapy and counselling on the NHS. Contact yours today! Remember, don’t hold back. Docs usually call for people who need help most.
  • Community Mental Health Teams – They support people living in the community with mild to moderate mental health problems. Maintained by health professionals from all backgrounds. An option for people who’d rather share an environment with people with similar conditions.

If you opt for private health care, you can expect immediate treatment. However, private therapy isn’t cheap and can cost anywhere between £40-100 a session. Also, it’s vital that the serving practitioner have the right qualifications and credentials to support your needs. Visit credible associations with accredited CBT therapists and talk to your GP who will likely be in touch with therapists offering services.

The internet is a hub of so-called therapists. So below, we’ll list three associations known for housing accredited CBT practitioners. Again, we’d advise guidance from your GP before splashing your cash.

  • The British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
    An organisation for people dedicated to the practice and theory of behavioural and cognitive psychotherapy. There’s also a register of all CBT therapists in the UK.
  • The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
    An organisation that can help you find a safe and effective counsellor or psychotherapist for all your mental health needs. They even have a therapist directory.
  • The British Psychological Society (BPS)
    An organisation dedicated to the advancement of psychology. Check out their directory of chartered psychologists for potential CBT support.

Advantages and Disadvantages of CBT

You might be thinking, ‘How can a treatment that fixes problems have cons?’ Sure, CBT has helped many people lead better lives, but it’s not suitable for everyone. Before jumping into therapy sessions, check out these pros and cons. Self-diagnosis is another form of negative behaviour, after all.

Seven Advantages of CBT

  • Bespoke treatments – Plan sessions around your lifestyle and problems. e.g. one-on-one treatments can tackle key issues and offer practical exercises to break negative cycles.
  • Alleviates multiple problems – From depression to anxiety, anger and eating disorders. CBT can help you conquer bad habits and thoughts through dedicated, systematic training.
  • Complete sessions in short time frame – Sessions are only 30-60 minutes long for approx. 5 – 20 weeks. That’s less than a year to gain the strategies to take control of your life.
  • Various forms of delivery – One-on-one sessions, group sessions or work with online self-help software. The right therapist can work in a setting of your choice: home, outdoors, at a clinic.
  • Teaches you practical strategies – You’ll gain access to critical techniques and exercises to use every day or when you need to manage mental problems you encounter throughout your life.
  • Effective where medication isn’t – Some drugs, like anti-depressants, don’t always offer the best results. CBT is a safe alternative that finds solutions for problems your facing right now!
  • Think positively by training your mind – Say goodbye to negative thoughts with strategies that build your confidence and positive state of mind.

Seven Disadvantages of CBT

  • Reliance to function – Sometimes, people can only function when they’re using CBT strategies. Therefore, this can become a negative behaviour pattern.
  • Requires commitment – It takes time, motivation and commitment. You can’t change your mind overnight, and people with complex issues may struggle to maintain pace.
  • Doesn’t eliminate problems – CBT is known to be solution focused for helping people cope with problems rather than identifying solutions for eliminating their problems.
  • Additional work and exercises – It takes more than attending sessions to get better. You must practice exercises daily something patients may potentially neglect.
  • Confronting your anxieties – People must relive traumatic experiences to conquer them. Not an easy task. This can lead to rejecting the treatment or further mental deterioration.
  • CBT focuses on current issues, not underlying problems – Many critics believe CBT is only interested on current issues rather than underlying problems that will remain with the patient even after treatment.
  • Complex problems harder to fix – Serious conditions hardly benefit from the limited number of sessions and need treatment over time. For complex issues, CBT may be the wrong option.

CBT: From studying to helplines

CBT is vast! If the subject area is something that piques your interest then why not delve deep into the crevices of the human psyche with our Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Level 3 qualification?

Discover the self, what it means to be conflicted and the implications this has on a person’s health. If you’re interested in navigating the mysteries of mental health, Oxbridge Home Learning can help you to gain influence, the skills and the qualifications to help people manage their problems.

If you’re looking for to talk to someone about your mental health, the NHS have plenty of helplines.