Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)



CBT is an evidence-based approach that focuses on how you think (cognitions), feel (emotions) and what you do (behaviours). It helps to identify problematic thinking patterns and offers tools and techniques to help manage and change these. Learning to be curious and experimenting with new ways of thinking and doing can bring forth surprising revelations; things that you had feared can actually turn out to be not so scary.

CBT concentrates on the present moment and can help you to adapt your thinking habits so you spend more time in the here and now, as opposed to being lost in past ruminations or future worries. Past events are not ignored, but instead viewed from the perspective of understanding how you may have developed certain thoughts, assumptions and beliefs, so the why's start to make some sense.

A Simple CBT analogy

Imagine you are on a journey of exploration with your therapist. You may like to visualise this as this journey up a mountain, through a forest or across moorland, the choice is yours.

Your therapist is stepping on your life path with you for a short while to help guide you along some slightly different, and perhaps bumpy routes. You are both aware that only you are the expert of you, and that at this current time you have misplaced your guide map, so are experiencing some navigational difficulties.

Once you are comfortable with the new route, you have recovered your sense of direction and feel you are now heading on the right path, then at this point, your therapist can leave you to continue on your way. Before she goes she gives you your new updated guide map, thus leaving you equipped to navigate the current and future paths of your life.


It is not the events themselves that distress us, rather it's how we interpret the events that is distressing.


What we do has a powerful influence over our thoughts and emotions.


These are chemical reactions to how we perceive an event. Negative emotions can stay locked in our cells if we have not processed the thought connected to them.

The here and now principle

It is more beneficial to focus on the present moment rather than ruminate about past events or worry about the future.

Our interacting systems

it may be useful to look at problems as interactions between thoughts, emotions, behaviours, physiology and the environment.

The mind continuum

Mental health problems may be best conceptualised as exaggerations of normal processes.


Stopping the cycle

CBT looks at what it is maintaining the problems in the here and now and then exploring possible changes that might help to break the cycle. If you ever felt anxious about a new situation or event, worried for days or even weeks and found yourself doing your best to avoid it, maybe only to find that it wasn't quite so bad after all, then you have experienced an anxiety cycle. Some people experience cycles like this regularly and some are only triggered in specific circumstances; fear of certain objects or places, in social situations or when they are reminded of a traumatic event.

CBT therapists work a bit like firefighters: they are not so interested in what caused the fire, but are more focused on what is keeping it going, and what can be done to extinguish it. When they work out what is keeping the problem going, they can then treat the problem by 'removing the fuel', thus interrupting the maintenance cycle.