Cognitive-behavioural therapy

What is cognitive-behavioural therapy?

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (often referred to as CBT) is a popular and effective talk therapy for a range of psychological and behavioural problems. It focuses on teaching people new ways of managing their behaviour and their thinking patterns in order to cope better.

'Cognitions' are the thoughts and beliefs that influence how we feel and consequently behave. Certain patterns of thought are unhelpful because they lead to strong negative feelings (such as anxiety, depression) and thus lead to destructive behaviours such as substance misuse, self-harm etc. It is possible, with support, to learn how to change these habits of unhelpful thinking and thus gain more control over feelings, moods and behaviour.

People can also learn how to be more aware of their behaviour patterns, to set goals for change and take more control of their lives. Becoming more aware of triggers and cues to behaviours and developing new skills for responding to these is an important element.

A cognitive-behavioural approach offers a source of empowerment to people who are struggling to make changes in their substance use. It can be used effectively on a one to one basis or in groups and people typically find it helpful after just a few sessions.

There is an increasingly strong evidence base for the cognitive-behavioural approach and it forms the foundation of very many programmes to help people with alcohol and drug problems.

For information on training in this approach go to Courses on Alcohol, Smoking and other Drugs.