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What is CBT?

  • CBT is an intensive, short-term (six to 20 sessions), problem-oriented approach. It was designed to be quick, practical and goal-oriented and to provide people with long-term skills to keep them healthy. 
  • The CBT main focus is on the here-and-now—on the problems that come up in a person’s day-to-day life. 
  • CBT helps people to look at how they interpret and evaluate what is happening around them and the effects these perceptions have on their emotional experience. 
  • Childhood experiences and events, while not the focus of CBT, may also be reviewed. This review can help people to understand and address emotional upset that emerged early in life, and to learn how these experiences may influence current responses to events.
  • According to CBT, the way people feel is linked to the way they think about a situation and not simply to the nature of the situation itself.

What conditions can CBT treat?

CBT is an effective treatment for many psychological conditions. 

These include:

  • mood disorders, anxiety disorders, including specific phobias ,
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder,
  • bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, 
  • body dysmorphic disorder (i.e., body image),
  • substance use disorders (i.e., smoking, alcohol and other drugs).

How will I know if CBT is for me?

In general, CBT may be a good therapy option for you if:

you are interested in learning practical skills to manage your present, day-to-day life and associated emotional difficulties.

How long does CBT last?

CBT is a time-limited, focused treatment approach. For problems such as anxiety and depression, CBT usually involves 12 to 20 sessions. The length of treatment can vary, depending on the 
severity and complexity of your problems—some clients improve significantly in four to six sessions, while others may need more than 20 sessions.

Do I need to prepare for CBT sessions?

Preparing to discuss a specific problem at each session helps you to get the most out of 
CBT. Coming prepared helps to keep you focused on your goals for therapy. It also helps to build a therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist and to communicate well throughout the session.

Is CBT an effective treatment for children and adolescents?

CBT has been adapted for use with children and has been shown 
in research to be an effective intervention for a variety of problems that can emerge in childhood. The therapy is adjusted to be appropriate for the child’s level of development. The CBT therapist will work with the parent and child—the younger the child, the more involved the parent will be for their children problem.

Is CBT an effective therapy?

CBT is an effective therapeutic approach because it:

  • is structured 
  • is problem-focused and goal-oriented 
  • teaches proven strategies and skills 
  • emphasizes the importance of a good, collaborative therapeutic 
  • relationship between the therapist and client.