Malcolm Toyer CBT Therapist Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire

Origins of the approach
CBT today is sometimes also referred to as Cognitive Therapy (CT) or Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy (CBP.) The approach was developed by Dr Albert Ellis and Dr Aaron T Beck in the USA during the 1960's and 1970's.

Dr Albert Ellis was a Psychologist who had trained in Analytic Psychotherapy but, frustrated with the lack of progress many of his clients were making, began to focus on certain self-defeating and rigid beliefs he called 'irrational.'

Dr Aaron Beck is a Psychiatrist who also practiced in the 1960's as an Analytic Psychotherapist. He began to notice that his clients had certain 'automatic' negative thoughts that they rarely reported to him as a therapist but which seemed to be linked to strong emotions. He therefore began to request people to record their thoughts as a part of the therapy. There were themes in the negative automatic thoughts in Depression that were distinct from those in anxiety and so he developed slightly different treatment manuals for therapists to use the approach with their own clients. As the evidence base grew for this approach, it was researched more extensively in the UK in the 1980's and began to be adopted more widely here.

The original research trials for CBT were in the treatment of depression but since that time, ways of treating a wide range of disorders have been developed and researched each with their own slightly different emphasis.

The therapy process
What CBT does is to break down and make sense of our experience into areas such as external events, our thoughts and beliefs, our emotions, and our behaviour. Clients who go through this process can often look more objectively at how they are thinking and behaving and stand back from their thoughts and re-assess them. Ultimately this can increase a sense of control and shift our emotional reactions to events. Often clients comment that they no longer feel that their negative automatic thoughts are facts but can see alternative perspectives

Effectiveness of CBT
There is a great deal of research evidence to show that CBT works effectively in treating depression. This research has been carefully reviewed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

NICE provides independent, evidence-based guidance for the NHS on the most effective ways to treat disease and ill health. CBT is recommended by NICE for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

What can CBT help with?
NICE recommends CBT in the treatment of the following conditions:

•anxiety disorders (including panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder)


•obsessive compulsive disorder

•schizophrenia and psychosis

•bipolar disorder

There is also good evidence that CBT is helpful in treating many other conditions, including:

•chronic fatigue

•behavioural difficulties in children

•anxiety disorders in children

•chronic pain

•physical symptoms without a medical diagnosis

•sleep difficulties

•anger management

CBT can be used if you are on medication which has been prescribed by your GP. You can also use CBT on its own. This will depend on the difficulty you want help with.

To read the Royal College of Psychiatrists' information on CBT just CLICK HERE

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