15/12/2023 by Therapy For You

Better thinking, better living: The benefits of CBT and how it works

Better thinking, better living: The benefits of CBT and how it works

Each week in the UK, 1 in 6 people experience common mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.


Given the unique way we all experience these challenges, navigating them is often a highly personal journey.


Yet, while there are a variety of therapeutic approaches available to accommodate the vast spectrum of experiences, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) stands out as one of the most popular treatments in the UK.


What is CBT?


CBT is a type of talking therapy that can help you overcome a range of mental health problems by focusing on changes to the way you think, feel and behave. This aims to improve the way you manage your difficulties now and in the future.


Equipping you with practical strategies to break your unhelpful patterns, this treatment is remarkably effective at addressing many common mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, and more, with successful recovery rates as high as 75%.


What advantages does CBT offer?

Cognitive behavioural therapy can help practically anyone escape the negative cycles that rule their lives. Yet, its overall benefits extend even further.


Structured support for your challenges


Whether someone chooses to make their first step into cognitive behavioural therapy through online courses, face-to-face sessions, or any other approach, the structure that CBT provides can be a huge help on the path to feeling better.


This methodical and focused approach is also what allows you to concentrate on identifying and tackling specific challenges, so you can make sustainable changes to the way you live for the benefit of your emotional wellbeing.


Positive progress in the long term


Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s natural to slip back into old and familiar ways. Even after months or years of positive progress, people can have bumps in their journey, finding themselves struggling to cope with issues they thought they had left in the past.


That’s why CBT is so powerful. With the right tools and guidance behind you, you can make progress toward a happier, healthier future long after your therapy sessions or online courses have ended.


Practical coping techniques for life


As well as talking through the thoughts and feelings on their mind, CBT also helps people achieve their goals by teaching them practical exercises they can use outside of sessions and in their daily life. 


Like taking up a new sport or learning to play a musical instrument, these techniques take practice to master. But once you do, this can be an effective way of addressing the challenges you face whenever they emerge.


A focus on present problems


Unlike some other therapeutic processes, CBT mainly focuses on resolving the challenges a person is facing right now, rather than issues from their past.


If you’re someone who finds the prospect of therapy daunting or are simply hesitant to talk about your past, cognitive behavioural therapy may be a more approachable route to treatment for you.


How does CBT work?


Cognitive behavioural therapy works based on the idea that the way we think, feel and behave is closely linked, affecting one another all the time.


These negative thought patterns can take many forms, and encompass a wide range of difficulties. So, to break these unhelpful cycles, CBT introduces exercises and strategies that help make a positive difference to the way we feel.


As everyone experiences challenges with their mental health in different ways, the coping techniques introduced during this course of treatment will differ from individual to individual, and include methods like Cognitive Restructuring, Problem Solving and more.


Over time, as you progress with your therapy, you will make sustainable, step-by-step progress, changing how you think, feel and behave for the better.


Eventually, you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to become your own therapist, so you can continue challenging unhelpful cycles and maintain your progress. However, much like a course of antibiotics, CBT is only effective if you see it all the way through, from start to finish.


How long does CBT take?


Because CBT is tailored to each person’s individual challenges, there is no specific time frame associated with this form of psychological therapy. 


Appointments are often 50-60 minutes long, conducted by a CBT therapist every week, with the process typically lasting anywhere from 6 to 20 sessions – though this may vary for you.


Learn more about what to expect from mental health therapy and counselling.


How is cognitive behavioural therapy delivered?


While face-to-face sessions with a therapist are a popular way to undergo cognitive behavioural therapy, this is far from the only way to begin your journey to feeling better. 


Whether you get started with online CBT courses, or choose to speak with a mental health professional through video calls, you can make small, meaningful progress regardless of your preferences or circumstances.


Problem Solving: One CBT technique you can start right now


If you’re already undergoing structured support and looking to bolster your skillset, or you simply want to see how cognitive behavioural therapy can benefit you first-hand, try practising Problem Solving, an effective, well-known CBT exercise.


Problem Solving is a straightforward, 5-step technique you can try when you have a few spare moments, helping you create a plan of action and find the most effective solution for practically any obstacle in your life.


Perhaps you need to break some bad news to a family member, or work through difficulties in your relationship. Whatever your goal, this exercise can help you find the best path forward.


1. Write down your worries


To begin, first identify the problem you’re worried about and write it down, getting it out of your mind and into words.


2. List all potential solutions


Next, list all of the possible solutions to your problem. It’s important to consider every option at this stage, no matter how unusual or far-fetched it may seem – you don’t want to limit your thinking at this stage.


3. Weigh up the pros and cons


With all of your possible solutions listed down, record all of the benefits and drawbacks of a particular solution. Consider the resources you need to make your solution a reality, and the likelihood of success.


Be as thorough as you can, and plot what you come up with in a table, listing the solution, its pros and cons in separate columns.


4. Assess your next steps


Once you’ve exhausted all options and considered every potential advantage and drawback you can think of, decide which of the solutions are practical for you.


From here, think about the actions involved in going ahead with your solution. Write what you can down, and assign each step a date, time and person responsible, reducing the number of barriers that could stand in your way.


5. Revisit your solutions if your issue is still unsolved


After moving forward with your chosen solution, assess whether it worked. You might find that you’ve made some progress toward your goal, or none at all.


If there’s still improvements to be made, revisit your list of potential solutions and see if there’s any new paths forward you can add, or alternative options you can try.


How can I get started with CBT?


CBT is a powerful, approachable form of treatment that can help you break free from the negative thoughts affecting your overall quality of life.


That’s why we at Therapy For You, the local NHS mental health support service for North East and South East Essex, are proud to offer dedicated online CBT sessions – a first of their kind resource freely available whenever or wherever suits you.


With guidance that spans a wide range of topics such as depression, stress, and panic attacks, you can view our current CBT courses and get started at home or on the go, whenever you have a spare few moments.


If our online courses aren’t the right fit for you, we also provide several other free forms of therapy:

For more about Therapy For You and the support we can provide, get in touch with one of our qualified therapists today.

Close x

You must be 18 years or over

Sorry you do not meet our criteria

If you are under 18 years old you are unable to register for an online account with Therapy For You.

Close x

You must be 16 years or over

Sorry you do not meet our criteria

If you are under 16 years old you are unable to register for an online account with Therapy For You.