The History of CBT
In the 1950’s a set of techniques was developed which focussed on removing symptoms of emotional distress, by dealing directly with the symptoms involved, rather than their deep-seated, underlying historical causes. This was called ‘behaviour therapy’ and was found to be very effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders, particularly specific phobias, such as fear of animals or heights.
However, behaviour therapy began to be viewed as limited, particularly with regard to how people could deal with the distress caused by the content of their thoughts. This was particularly true for the self-critical, negative thinking style caused by depression.
In the early 1970’s an American psychiatrist called Professor Aaron T. Beck developed a theory of depression that centred on the unhelpful thinking styles. He devised a treatment specifically for depression called ‘cognitive therapy’. Subsequently the techniques of both behaviour and cognitive therapy were integrated and found to be effective for a wide range of emotional problems. This became known as ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ or CBT.
CBT uses strategies that focus on both behaviour and thinking to help with the emotional distress of psychological problems. These techniques have been researched extensively and there is now a large body of scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of CBT.
Reasons for seeking CBT
CBT is a psychological approach which ongoing research has shown to be effective for a wide range of problems, for example:
- Anxiety & Panic
- Eating Problems
- Sleep Disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress
What to Expect
CBT can help you to make sense of what may seem like overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller areas. (Situation, Thoughts, Emotions, Physical Sensations and Behaviour). The therapist helps you to see how they are connected and how they affect you.
CBT depends on the client and therapist working together towards agreed goals. It will help you to change unhelpful aspects of how you think (‘cognitive’) and what you do (‘behaviour’). These changes can help you to feel better.
Following an initial assessment of the problem, CBT, if appropriate, is organised over an agreed number of sessions (commonly 5-8), typically occurring every 1-2 weeks and lasting up to 55 minutes.