Frequently Asked Questions about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- What is Cognitive Therapy or CBT?
- What makes CBT different than other types of psychotherapy?
- How does CBT work? Is there proof?
- How much will therapy cost?
- Is the therapist qualified?
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, problem-focused therapy, which has been successfully used with a number of psychological and emotional problems, including depression, anxiety and addictive behaviours, over the last 20-30 years. CBT aims to help clients identify and change thinking and behaviour patterns that cause distress.The CBT approach suggests that:
- Thoughts play a major role in the emotional and behavioural problems experienced by individuals. While situations (a friend not returning a telephone call) can elicit some feelings (irritation or anxiety), the way we think about this situation (“Something is wrong” or “This person doesn’t care”) can make the emotional reaction more severe or intense.
- Behaviours can also be part of the problem. For example, if the individual, who is feeling badly waiting for a return call from a friend, calls repeatedly leaving angry messages for the other person, it is likely the situation will be made worse.
- Exploring the connection between situations, thoughts, feelings and behaviour will be helpful in revealing maladaptive thinking or behavioural patterns, which can then be changed leading to less emotional distress.
- Structured (there is a clear plan for each session)
- Focused largely on present problems that are causing distress
- Collaborative (client and therapist work together to find solutions)
- Skill-building (clients learn skills that can help them to deal better with problem situations, and practice these both within and between sessions)
- Emphasise thinking and behaviour patterns that may be more effective than those in operation currently
- Look at thinking which causes distress
- Focus on practical ways to change all of the above
- Evidence Review (is there a good reason to believe what is assumed?)
- Generating alternatives (is there another way one could look at this?)
- Reviewing the usefulness of thoughts (does it help to think this way?)
- De-catastrophising (how likely is it that something bad will happen and what could be done, if it did?)
- Action plan (what can be done to check things out or to improve the situation?)
Does CBT work?
CBT is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy. Results from randomised control trials demonstrate its effectiveness for a wide variety of psychological problems. CBT is used extensively in the NHS and it is an approved talking therapy under the NICE Guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for depression and anxiety disorders. The NHS recommends CBT as treatment prior to prescribing antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. (see press coverage here)
There are many aspects of CBT that differentiate it from other forms of psychotherapy. First and foremost CBT is devoted to reducing and eliminating psychological symptoms and distress as quickly and completely as possible. In CBT there is more of a focus on helping your develop new thinking and behavioral skills that will enable you to feel better and stay better. The skill development component of CBT differentiates it from other psychotherapies. In fact, sessions can feel more like a class than therapy at times, as you learn new skills you can experiment with between sessions. Finally, CBT has been more extensively researched than any other form of psychotherapy. The research generally shows that CBT is the most effective form of psychological treatment for anxiety disorders, depression and a host of other psychological problems.
There is some evidence that suggests that patients who develop new ways of thinking get better from psychological difficulties. When patients develop skills that enable them to identify, evaluate and change their thoughts they are likely to get better. In fact, there is proof, in the form of research studies, that suggests that when patients develop these new thinking skills that they tend to get better and stay better, or have a lower chance of relapse. For a report published by the National Institute of Health, which reviews dozens of randomised control trials using CBT, click on this link.
A brief initial consultation is free of charge.
Individual therapy costs €50/hour. Psychotherapy may be covered by medical insurance - it is worth checking with your provider for the specific details.
The rate for couples therapy or family therapy is slightly higher (€65) as sessions tend to last a bit longer than individual sessions - to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak.
The hourly rate for group therapy sessions will depend on the size of the group - the estimate is €10/session in a group of 6-8 participants, and lasts 90 minutes.
CBT tends to be less expensive than other forms of therapy because of its time limited, solution-based nature. Phobias can take as few as 6-8 sessions. The number of sessions required depends largely on the nature and depth of the issue - but you should start to notice improvements after 4-6 sessions.