Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT for short, is the number one recommended treatment for depression and anxiety disorders in the UK. Within IAPT mental health services, a range of different CBT interventions are offered in any number of different ways, but these all work under the same principles.

CBT involves looking at our thoughts (Cognitions), our actions (Behaviours), and the way that we feel. Often, these areas knock on to one another and form patterns, and these patterns can cause us to feel low in mood or anxious. Once we can identify these patterns that can make us feel worse, CBT teaches us changes we can make or coping techniques to help us break these patterns and improve our mood. CBT is a collaborative treatment which focuses on skill learning, with a client eventually learning how to look after their own mental wellbeing without the support of their practitioner.

An example of how CBT works in practice is a technique called Behavioural Activation. Behavioural Activation is, to put it simply, scheduling activities and rebuilding our routine. With effort and guidance from a practitioner, we can look at rebuilding our routine to make sure that it is balanced, containing activities that provide us with feelings of enjoyment, achievement and closeness to other people. These activities will provide us with regular feelings of reward, and evidence with which to challenge negative thoughts.

Simple strategies like this are the foundation of CBT, and can go a long way in terms of improving our mood and how we feel. Mental Health Matters operate a number of services to provide these treatments under the IAPT model, a nationally recognised initiative to provide psychological treatments within government guidelines. Through our services, CBT and guided self-help treatments can be accessed through workshops, computerised therapies and individual, one-to-one appointments. Using a stepped-care model, provision of treatment is tailored to individual needs, with the length and intensity of treatment changing depending on severity.

The list of mental health problems that CBT can be helpful for is vast, so if you feel like you could use some support, look into your local IAPT service today!