Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): The Pros and Cons

Exploring the pros and cons of CBT.

What is Therapy? 29th Dec, 2020

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, has become widely prescribed to help people cope with a range of issues, including depression and anxiety. It can be a great help when you have mental health issues, although it is not the right solution for everyone, it has worked for millions of people. If you have never heard of CBT, it is defined by the NHS in the UK as follows; “CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.”.

This type of therapy aims to give you the tools you need to break down overwhelming problems into bite size pieces you can cope with. CBT has a practical focus to help you improve your state of mind on a day-to-day basis. It does not look at problems from the past, keeping the emphasis on current issues.


Pros Of CBT:

The advantages of CBT include the length of treatment, which lasts for 5-20 sessions of 30-60 minutes and is very structured. Therefore, it is completed relatively quickly when you compare it to other talking therapies. Due to this highly structured element, CBT can be provided in many different formats such as groups, reading materials and apps.

In addition, it may be helpful where medicine alone is not being effective. Although this can apply to many therapies, it is particularly true of CBT. This is due to learning practical strategies for use in your daily life which you continue to rely on after the treatment has finished.

Cons of CBT:

The disadvantages of CBT include commitment, you must engage with the process to benefit from it. Your therapist will give advice and help but they do need your willing participation. This commitment includes attending all of the sessions and doing the work between meetings, which may take a significant amount of time.

Additionally, doing CBT means confronting anxieties and emotions you may be suppressing. This can mean you get uncomfortable, emotional and anxious in the initial phases. As the focus is on your capacity to change yourself, including feelings, emotions and thoughts, any wider issues in your family/school/work are not addressed. Some critics also point to the fact that CBT concentrates on current problems, therefore, underlying mental health conditions are not addressed.

Overall, CBT can be, and has been, beneficial for millions of people. As it focuses on what you can control, such as your reactions, this can help improve situations completely out of your control, which previously would have affected your health and wellbeing. This may lead to more positive outcomes in the future. It may also be the case that addressing your current problems opens a window to past issues, which you can then confront.

On the other side of this equation, understanding you don’t need to know the reason for your mental health issues, can be very liberating. If you think CBT could help you, then talk to your doctor, therapist, or go online and see what resources are available in your area.

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