Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or cognitive behavioural therapies or CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that aims to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviours and cognitions (thoughts) through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure. The title is used in diverse ways to designate behaviour therapy, cognitive therapy, and to refer to therapy based upon a combination of basic behavioural and cognitive research.

There is empirical evidence that CBT is effective for the treatment of a variety of problems, including mood, anxiety, personality, eating, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders. Treatment is often manualized, with specific technique-driven brief, direct, and time-limited treatments for specific psychological disorders. CBT is used in individual therapy as well as group settings, and the techniques are often adapted for self-help applications.

CBT was primarily developed through a merging of behaviour therapy with cognitive therapy. While rooted in rather different theories, these two traditions found common ground in focusing on the "here and now", and on alleviating symptoms. Many CBT treatment programs for specific disorders have been evaluated for efficacy and effectiveness; the health-care trend of evidence-based treatment, where specific treatments for symptom-based diagnoses are recommended, has favored CBT over other approaches such as psychodynamic treatments. In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT as the treatment of choice for a number of mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, bulimia nervosa, and clinical depression, and for the neurological condition chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.

The term 'Cognitive Behavioural Therapy' (CBT) is variously used to refer to behavioural therapy, cognitive therapy and to therapy based on the pragmatic combination of principles of behavioural and cognitive theories. New CBT interventions are keeping pace with developments in the academic discipline of psychology in areas such as attention, perception, reasoning and decision making.

At Sunflower CBT you will learn to make sense of problems by breaking them down into smaller areas so that you can see how they are connected and how they can affect you. This includes looking at your behaviour, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions in reaction to a situation.

You will probably be asked to keep a diary so that you can identify how you react to certain events. This will help you to identify patterns of thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions, and see if they are unrealistic or unhelpful. You and your therapist then work together to make changes. Once you've learnt to identify negative patterns, you'll be asked to practise replacing negative thoughts with positive ones during everyday events. This isn't always easy but using CBT techniques you can try out different behavioural approaches in real situations, which can help to bring about changes. You won't be asked to do anything that you don't feel comfortable with.

CBT aims to provide you with the insight and skills to improve your quality of life. Once therapy has finished, you will be able to practise and develop on your own what you have already learnt.

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