Cognitive behavioural therapy (also known as CBT) is a type of talking therapy used to help treat a range of mental health conditions. It is based around the concept of helping a patient understand their thoughts and behaviours closer aiming to assist the patient to identify negative thought and behaviour patterns and cycles, make adjustments to those and learn healthy coping strategies for dealing with challenges and difficulties.
CBT is available privately or through the NHS. There are different ways to do CBT, it can be run by a therapist and done either 1:1 or in a group. It can also be run over the phone or via online video call. CBT can also be done without a therapist running it through book form (which walks you step by step through exercises) or online in the form of computerised CBT. CBT is normally done in a number of weekly or fortnightly sessions which can be between half an hour and an hour long. The minimum number of sessions tends to be around 4 but can be up to around 20 sessions.
CBT is commonly used to help with depression and anxiety, but can also be used to help many other mental health illnesses. It can help with a wide range of problems that have a psychological component to them, such as some sleep problems, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, anger issues and sexual dysfunction.
You should speak to your doctor if you feel CBT could help you as after a discussion with you about your current symptoms, medical history and whether CBT is right for you, they can refer you for CBT on the NHS. There may be a wait for this and if you want to go privately it is still good to speak with your doctor and keep them in the loop so they can oversee your support.
It can be difficult to work out if you are getting better as you're going through CBT. Your doctor is a good person to be able to help give you some feedback, and sometimes use objective scoring systems or benchmarks to assess your progress. Some simple things to look for may be improvements to symptoms, day to day tasks may be easier, or easier more often than they were before.
Your doctor will discuss with you your current symptoms, past medical and mental health history and talk you through what CBT involves. The doctor will keep an eye on how you are doing and whether the CBT is helping, this may be via set questions that can be used to monitor your progress over time.
You may be fit for work if you are going through CBT treatment depending on the severity of the mental illness and how it is affecting your day to day functioning. Your doctor can help decide this.
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