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Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), also know as Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy is a Psychological talk therapy which has been demonstrated to be very effective in treating a variety of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, panic, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and others. It can also help people who have difficulties with anger, self-esteem or excessive worry.

This therapy focuses on how you are thinking (cognitive), behaving and feeling at the moment rather than your early childhood experiences. It involves collaboration between the client and the therapist such that the client learns how making even small changes to their own behaviour can result in large changes in the quality of their life experience. Because the therapy involves learning self-help strategies people are able to use those strategies throughout their lives even when therapy sessions have concluded.

CBT can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with medication prescribed by a doctor. Sometimes a doctor may suggest that a patient tries cognitive behaviour therapy or alternatively a person might decide for themselves that this approach could be useful to them.

The CBT approach involves the client and therapist working together to develop a shared understanding of the clients presenting problems in terms of the interaction between thoughts feelings and behaviour. Therapy involves helping clients to better understand and manage problematic thoughts or behaviours to effect changes in presenting problems. For the therapy to be successful it requires the client to be an active participant in the process and to be willing to try out and practice skills learned in therapy sessions.

This is typically a time limited intervention in which the ultimate goal is to help clients to develop the skills to manage their own difficulties on an ongoing basis. Sessions are usually of one hour duration and are scheduled weekly, fortnightly or monthly as required. A typical course of therapy might involve between 6 and 20 sessions.

CBT is an evidence based therapy. This means that scientific studies have demonstrated that it can be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health difficulties. The conduct of therapy is also evidence based in that at the start of therapy the client and therapist together identify specific goals. Progress can then be measured with reference to these goals.

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