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Young man climbing mountain.
CBT is more practical and action-oriented than other therapies.

Most psychological therapies share certain common features. Like other therapeutic approaches, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) recognises that good therapy demands a good therapeutic relationship between therapist and client, one underpinned by empathy and warmth.

However, CBT is different in some key respects. 


  • More practical and action-oriented than other talking therapies, CBT emphasises the value of behavioural change. Often, clients know intellectually that a thought or belief may be untrue or unhelpful. However, it can still ‘feel’ true in their heart. Everyday behavioural changes are key to bridging this head-heart gulf.
Two faces depicting the mind and psychology.
CBT is educational, helping you learn the skills to become your own therapist.
  •  CBT tends to be a relatively brief therapy. It usually consists of between 10 to 20 sessions.
  • CBT is a clearly structured therapy. Both therapist and client aim to stick to agreed session agendas, rather than having free-ranging discussions where the therapist merely follows the client wherever s/he leads.
  • CBT emphasises the value of psycho-education. Handouts and written material is provided. The goal is that clients acquire the skills needed to become their own therapist. Skill-building is key to lasting change and client independence.
Coffee and writing pad.
Out-of-session work will help you get the most out of CBT.
  • CBT is a partnership, a collaborative therapy that involves therapist and client working together throughout the process.
  • Clients are asked to engage in therapy-related treatment tasks or ‘homework’ (many people prefer to use the former term!). This helps you to truly learn and implement new ways of thinking and behaving.
  • Remember, there are 168 hours in the week, only one of which is spent in therapy. Making use of the other 167 hours helps clients to get the most out of CBT.
Arrow on road.
Moving forward: CBT largely focuses on the here-and-now, not the distant past.
  • CBT is outcome-focused and largely focused on the here-and-now rather than the distant past. Focusing on past events may help to understand where a problem originated, but it does not necessarily solve that problem.
  • CBT experts sometimes compare the situation to a fire, saying therapist and client should address the factors keeping the fire going rather than looking for the match that started the fire. Now, it may be advisable to look for the match at a later date, so as to avoid future fires from the same cause. However, this is not a given – the factors that triggered a problem may be different to the ones maintaining it. That's why it tends to be more productive to focus on current problems rather than past events.   

To sum up, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) tends to be relatively brief in duration, educational, collaborative, and clearly structured. In particular, CBT is characterised by an active, directive problem-solving style focused on current difficulties


Why CBT?


What you can expect/FAQ