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Cognitive behavioural therapy 

Cognitive behavioural therapy: breaking the cycle

The most common alternative to pharmacological treatment offered to patients with depression and anxiety by the NHS is cognitive behavioural therapy, or ‘CBT’. This guide details how it works.

Cognitive behavioural therapy: Breaking the cycle

Source: Wayne Mclean /

Download the full print version of the infographic here

How does CBT work?

  • CBT is based on the concept that thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms and behaviours are interconnected.
  • CBT challenges people to identify unhelpful thoughts and evaluate evidence for and against them.
  • This process allows problems to be addressed more realistically, and emotions to be proportional.
  • Making a change in one of these areas can break the cycle and result in more helpful thinking patterns and behaviours. 
  • A course of CBT can be up to 20 sessions, usually once per week or fortnight, with each session lasting 30–60 minutes.

Cognitive behavioural therapy: The cycle

Who is CBT suitable for?

How many people are having CBT in England?

How long are people waiting?

Does CBT work?

*The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service includes a range of talking therapies, such as guided and non-guided self-help, CBT, counselling, psychoeducational peer support and mindfulness



Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207745

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