Cognitive behavioural therapy explained

Cognitive behavioural therapy is the treatment of choice for most therapists in the UK and US. It is used to treat a range of mental health issues and many other treatments and forms of counselling use approaches that have a basis in CBT.

As a treatment for mental health issues, CBT originated in the 1970s and has been subject to on-going and long-term research, with an evidence base that supports its continued use. Increasingly, CBT is also used to help those who do not have mental health issues, including building resilience and to improve how we think about problems and stressful situations or activities.

Everyone is prone to unhealthy and problematic thinking patterns. For example, our mood can affect the way we approach a problem or how we view a situation. It is easy for this outlook to become a habit, and the way we think about an issue over a stressful period or during a period of low mood can start to impact on other situations.


CBT sessions, therefore, focus on breaking this vicious cycle by solving current problems. Often this will involve planning and problem solving, including testing ideas to help find a solution. Eventually, this approach becomes easier and our thinking habits become positive. An individual who has completed treatment with a CBT focus can then apply these skills in everyday life.