Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common type of talk therapy (psychotherapy). CBT aims to help you identify and explore patterns of thinking as well as the ways emotions and thoughts can affect your actions and how to reframe your thoughts in a more helpful way.

Advantages of CBT are:

  1. It is highly engaging

  2. It holds the person accountable for the therapeutic outcome

  3. Is centred on the idea that one’s emotions and thoughts are responsible for how one behaves and feel

What can it help with?

CBT for chronic pain:

Pain causes stress, and stress affects pain control chemicals in the brain, such as norepinephrine and serotonin. CBT helps by reducing the arousal that impacts these chemicals. CBT also focuses on reducing pain and distress by modifying physical sensations, catastrophic thinking, and maladaptive behaviours. Mindfulness-based CBT,  a type of psychotherapy that involves a combination of cognitive therapy, meditation, and the cultivation of a present-oriented, has been found to reduce self-reported pain and pain-related behaviours in patients with chronic pain.


CBT is used to treat people with mental health conditions, such as:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Phobias

  • PTSD

  • OCD

  • Sleep disorders


CBT is also used to treat people with chronic health conditions, such as:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

  • Fibromyalgia

Is it effective?

CBT is one of the most studied therapy approaches. In an article published by PubMed, experts consider CBT to be the best treatment available for certain mental health conditions. Here are a few ways CBT was shown as being an effective form of treatment for certain mental and physical health conditions.

  • A 2018 review of 41 studies looking at CBT in the treatment of anxiety disorders, PTSD, and OCD found evidence to suggest that it could help improve symptoms in all of these issues. The approach was most effective, however, for OCD, anxiety, and stress.

  • In 2012 Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) CBT was found to improve the quality of life in chronic musculoskeletal pain patients after ten weeks of treatment.

  • A 2018 study looking at CBT for anxiety in young people found that the approach appeared to have good long-term results. More than half of the participants in the study no longer met the criteria for anxiety at follow-up, which took place two or more years after they completed therapy.

  • Research published in 2011 suggests that CBT can not only help treat depression, but it may also help reduce the chances of relapse after treatment. It may also help improve symptoms of bipolar disorder when paired with medication, but more research is needed to help support this finding.

  • A 2018 study looking at 104 people found evidence to suggest CBT can also help improve cognitive function for people with major depression and PTSD.

What to expect at your first session:

According to Healthline, here’s a rough take on what to expect during your first visit with a CBT therapist:

  • Your therapist will ask about symptoms, emotions, and feelings you experience. Emotional distress often manifests physically, too. Symptoms such as headaches, body aches, or stomach upset may be relevant, so it’s a good idea to mention them.

  • They’ll also ask about the specific difficulties you’re experiencing. Feel free to share anything that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t bother you too much. Therapy can help you deal with any challenges you experience, large or small.

  • You’ll go over general therapy policies, such as confidentiality, and talk about therapy costs, session length, and the number of sessions your therapist recommends.

  • You’ll talk about your goals for therapy, or what you want from treatment.


How to find a CBT therapist?


At Zaya, we work hard to find the best practitioners and therapists. Sign up to get early access to find practitioners that incorporate a complementary and integrative approach to supporting your mental health and physical wellbeing.










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