What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a collaborative, scientifically-proven therapy approach that aims to provide clients with strategies to cope more effectively with a wide range of problems such as depression, anxiety, stressful life events, and relationship issues.  CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts (“cognitions”) influence, and are influenced by, our feelings and behavior.  This means we can easily become “stuck” in a vicious cycle, where negative thoughts and feelings feed each other and lead to unhelpful patterns of behavior:

CBT triangle

Many of these processes happen automatically, and often outside of our awareness, so it can be difficult to get “unstuck”.  However, CBT can help clients to become more aware of their negative thoughts and feelings while they are occurring, enabling them to break unhelpful patterns of behaviour.  In addition, clients are helped to discover more helpful ways of thinking and coping that they can use in difficult situations.

In short, CBT is:

Educational – it provides a new way of understanding your problems

Skill-based – it involves learning new skills and strategies to manage your unhelpful thoughts, feelings and behavior, and practicing these skills between sessions

Goal-oriented – it encourages you to set specific goals and to commit to their achievement

Present-focused  it prioritizes dealing with the problems you are faced with right now over exploring possible root causes