CBT TriangleCognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy. It focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life – your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. It then looks at how you can change negative patterns of thinking and/or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel.

There is a vast array of evidence highlighting the effectiveness of CBT for both children and adults suffering with a variety of problems including eating disorders (4), depression (6), conduct disorder (1), aggression (3) and anxiety (5).

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (“NICE” – the body that provides independent, evidence-based guidance for the NHS on the most effective ways to treat disease and ill health) recommends CBT in the treatment of several conditions, including anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (NICE, 2011).

One of the many reasons for CBT’s effectiveness across such a variety of difficulties is that each CBT intervention is catered to the client’s specific needs and strengths (2).

CBT’s principles include:

  • ​Linking negative thoughts to unhelpful behaviours
  • Setting specific and achievable goals that are regularly reviewed
  • Trying out different behaviours and ways to cope


A course of CBT involves a series of one-to-one sessions between the client and therapist. In my case, these will take place at a venue that is convenient for the client. This can be the client’s home, school or a “neutral” office. Sessions take place roughly once a week and last about 50 minutes.

Every new referral will start with a 4 week assessment, in which the needs of the client are identified and targets for intervention agreed. No two clients are the same, therefore no two interventions are ever the same. CBT can range in length from a short term intervention (6 weeks) to a longer-term intervention (6 months) depending on the difficulty being targeted and the needs and circumstances of the client. There will then be regular reviews so that progress can be measured and targets redefined if necessary to ensure that the changing needs of the client are met and addressed effectively.