What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT, originated in America in the early 1960s. It was developed as a structured, relatively short-term, and relatively present-orientated psychotherapy, directed towards solving current problems and modifying unhelpful thinking, behaviour, and feelings.

In a nutshell, the CBT model proposes that it is our distorted or 'dysfunctional' thinking that influences our feelings and our behaviour. It is our thinking, our interpretation of events, that usually starts our problem, and our feelings and behaviour follow. A little like a horse and cart. Where the horse goes the cart has to follow! It is clear, that very quickly, anyone can become trapped in a vicious cycle of negative thinking, destructive or negative behaviour, and the most negative emotions or feelings.

In Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) the counsellor will collaboratively work with the client to (amongst other things):

* help the client identify problem behaviour patterns
* help the client identify problem underlying thinking
* help the client develop new, more realistic, helpful beliefs
* help the client plan and execute specific behaviour change
* help the client recognise changes in mood

Cognitive Therapy emerged from the pioneering work of two therapists: Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis. Although both therapists emphasized slightly different aspects of their work, both are in agreement that errors in our thinking are a major cause of human unhappiness. (Aaron Beck preferred to stress the importance of challenging negative thinking. Albert Ellis - who calls his approach Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, REBT - preferred to stress the importance of disputing the inflexible and irrational rules of living that we call ' musts ' or 'shoulds'.) Both therapists also agree that examining our feelings, or emotions, and our behaviour, as well as our thinking, often with the help of a skilled Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) counsellor, can be very helpful. In fact, such examination is often the key to solving the problem.

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