Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (normally called CBT for short) is a type of therapy which looks at how your thoughts and beliefs affect the way you feel and behave. CBT teaches you coping skills for dealing with problems.

What is CBT used for?

CBT is one of the most common therapies, and is usually used to treat anxiety issues, including panic, social anxiety, phobias, general anxiety and OCD. It can also be used to help with depression.

What’s the difference between CBT and counselling?

CBT is usually more structured than counselling. Rather than talking freely about your life, your therapist will help you tackle specific things you’re struggling with, and set goals to work towards.

CBT also focuses on what’s happening now, rather than going into lots of detail about things that have happened in the past.

What it’s like to have CBT

CBT is about helping you to understand the connection between your:

  • situation
  • thoughts
  • feelings
  • behaviour

It teaches you to cope with your feelings by changing the way you think and behave. This tends to happen in one-to-one sessions with a trained therapist.

You’ll usually be offered between 6 and 20 sessions, which are normally every week.

Sessions might be face to face, online, or a mix of both.

Starting CBT

A course of CBT usually starts with an initial consultation which is a first meeting between you and the therapist. This is a chance for you to ask them any questions you have. They’ll also ask you some questions to understand what you’re struggling with and what might be keeping those problems going. Your therapist might also use this first meeting to help you set some goals for your therapy.

What happens in a CBT session

Your therapist will talk with you to help you spot thought patterns which might be making you feel anxious or depressed.

They'll usually give you some practical exercises you can do to understand these thoughts, and how to challenge them and think in a more helpful way. These will often come in the form of worksheets that you can fill in with your therapist or at home on your own You'll usually have to do some activities on your own, between sessions with your therapist.

Your therapist might also help you make some changes to help your overall health and wellbeing.

Read how Amelia's CBT helped her battle her OCD on Young Minds

How to get CBT

There are a number of different ways to get CBT.

Free CBT

Young Minds Matter offers free CBT through some of the schools in Gloucestershire. Talk to your teacher or head of year to find out if your school is included.

There might be a waiting list before you can be seen.

Paying for CBT

You can also pay for CBT with a private therapist. Private sessions usually cost between £40 and £100 each, with each one lasting 30 minutes to an hour.

Some therapists offer lower cost options for people on lower incomes. Some therapists might ask you to make a donation based on what you can afford, or give you a discount on sessions.

Learning CBT on your own

If you don’t want to see a therapist just yet, you can learn some CBT techniques to try on your own. This can also be helpful if you’re on a waitlist to see a therapist and you want something to try while you’re waiting.

The following links are a good place to start.