Principles of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

Principles of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

CBT helps us to manage our problems by changing the way we think and behave. This is done via talking and is commonly used to help treat anxiety and depression, but can also be used as treatment for other mental and physical health problems.

There are 10 principles of CBT, which help to describe what we do as therapists during cognitive behavioural therapy.


#1 CBT is based on an ever-evolving formula of the patient and their problems in cognitive terms:

  • Current thinking
  • Problematic behaviours
  • Precipitating factors
  • Developmental events
  • Enduring patterns of interpreting


In CBT we explore these factors during therapy sessions and these can change over a period of time.


#2 CBT requires a sound therapeutic alliance

CBT is a relationship of equals between the client and the therapist.


#3 CBT emphasizes collaboration and active participation

Therapy sessions are a collaborative force and although the therapist may be slightly more active during initial therapy sessions, there is no hierarchy within CBT treatment.


#4 CBT is goal oriented and problem focused

CBT is very goal oriented, and therefore over time, the client becomes more independent. In CBT we focus on changing behaviours and cognitive patterns in order to change moods.


#5 CBT initially emphasizes the present

In CBT we aim to make some changes in the beginning to help the client move out of their current emotional state, so that they can reflect on the past and understand how their feelings and behaviours evolved over time.


#6 CBT aims to be time limited

With CBT, we aim to wrap up therapy within a set number of sessions where possible. This of course depends on the individual needs and circumstances of the client, and often the number of sessions may be gradually reduced over time.


#7 CBT is educative and aims to teach the client to be their own therapist

Clients are given a therapy ‘toolkit’ in CBT and are encouraged to implement their own therapy practices and conduct their own therapy sessions.


#8 CBT sessions are structured

There is a structure to CBT sessions to help the clients through their therapy sessions.


#9 CBT teaches patients to identify, evaluate and respond to their dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs

This is where the ‘C’ in CBT comes in. What we look for here is the client’s cognitive patterns, what this means and how the behaviours can be modified moving forward.


#10 CBT uses a variety of techniques to change thinking, change and behaviour

We use a variety of techniques in CBT, some of which are cognitive and some behavioural, which are used to work on different things for the patient.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding the principles of mindfulness, pop them in the comments section below or feel free to contact me.

Wishing you well as always,


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