Cognitive and behavioural therapies

Written by Katherine Nicholls

Katherine Nicholls

Counselling Directory Content Team

Last updated April 2014 | Next review due May 2024

Behavioural therapies are based on the way you think (cognitive) and/or the way you behave. These therapies recognise that it is possible to change, or recondition, our thoughts or behaviour to overcome specific problems.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy (or ACT) is a form of behavioural analysis that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies to help increase psychological flexibility. While the therapy isn't considered a long-term treatment, it is considered helpful in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders.

Behavioural therapy

Behavioural therapy focuses on an individual's learnt, or conditioned, behaviour and how this can be changed. The approach assumes that if a behaviour can be learnt, then it can be unlearnt (or reconditioned) so is useful for dealing with issues such as phobias or addictions.

Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)

Cognitive analytic therapy brings together ideas from both cognitive therapy and analytic psychology into one integrative model. By looking at past experience, the therapy aims to help clients understand why they think or behave in a certain way, before looking to develop new ways of coping.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) combines cognitive and behavioural therapies. The approach focuses on thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions, and teaches clients how each one can have an effect on the other. CBT is useful for dealing with a number of issues, including depression, anxiety and phobias.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy deals with thoughts and perceptions, and how these can affect feelings and behaviour. By reassessing negative thoughts an individual can learn more flexible, positive ways of thinking, which can ultimately affect their feelings and behaviour towards those thoughts.

› Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)

Based on cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) looks to help those who experience emotions very intensely. The approach was developed in the late 80s by psychologist Marsha M. Lineham. Originally created to help people with borderline personality disorder, DBT is now used to help a number of mental health challenges.

Cognitive and behavioural therapies

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