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What is Cognitive behavioural therapy?

Image saying 'what is CBT?'To commemorate World Mental Health Day, all week we are sharing information and resources about mental health therapies and support available.

So, what is Cognitive behavioural therapy, or 'CBT' as it is often called?

CBT is a talking therapy that helps people manage their immediate problems by changing the way they think and behave. This may sound very difficult, yet CBT aims to break problems down into small, bitesize chunks so you can deal with them better. The therapy is rooted in the idea that our emotional and physical feelings are linked, so negative thoughts can feel very overwhelming and have a big impact on your day-to-day life. 

CBT helps you to change negative patterns. Unlike some more traditional talking therapies, CBT looks at the here and now, rather than focusing on your past. 

Key aspects of CBT:

  • It can be useful for dealing with negative thoughts, depression and anxiety
  • It may be useful for people with long-term health conditions, to help people cope with symptoms
  • You see a therapist once a week (or fortnightly) and each session lasts between 30 minutes to an hour
  • It is a short-term therapy, so it typically lasts between 5 and 20 sessions
  • It is highly structured
  • It is practical, so you can use it in your everyday life

Cognitive behavioural therapy is highly structured and can be quite short term (a course of treatment may last between 5 and 20 sessions), but it is important to remember that it is not suitable for everyone. It may not suit you if you need to look more at your past experiences like your childhood. 

How to access CBT

If you are interested in trying CBT, you can speak to your GP who will be able to guide you about the different therapies available and make a referral on your behalf. You can also refer yourself directly via the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service (IAPT).

Find out more about IAPT on the NHS website

Support from MS-UK

We are here to support you. You can contact the MS-UK Helpline either by calling us for free on 0800 783 0518 or by contacting us digitally. You can also register for MS-UK Counselling, which offers talking therapy for anyone with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS).

World Mental Health Day

On Saturday 10 October 2020, MS-UK will be sharing our Loneliness and Isolation report to encourage mental health for all, including people affected by MS. 

Discover more