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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Q&A

Mr Rufus Harrington is a consultant cognitive behavioural psychotherapist. Here we ask him about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), how it works and what's involved in a session.

What is a cognitive behavioural therapy?

CBT is a wonderful evidence based therapy that has revolutionised psychological treatment. It is a therapy in which the clinician explains to the patient why they have their symptoms and then trains the patient in specific skills to get better. It is as much a ‘doing’ therapy as a ‘talking’ therapy.

What are the reasons for having CBT?

CBT is a wonderful evidence-based therapy that has revolutionised psychological treatment. It is a therapy in which the clinician explains to the patient why they have their symptoms and then trains the patient in specific skills to get better. It is as much a ‘doing’ therapy as a ‘talking’ therapy.

What does a session involve?

A first session is an assessment. During this session you will find out what is keeping your symptoms going and how this can change. Subsequent sessions guide you through the process of change, teaching you the skills to get better.

What are the alternatives to CBT?

You may be prescribed medication or other types of psychological therapy; but at present, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence does for the most part recommend CBT.

What are the benefits of CBT?

CBT can free you from the prison of your symptoms of both depression and anxiety. CBT can help you to develop better relationships and a more meaningful, happy and rewarding life.

How does it work?

We used evidence based CBT models that help us understand the factors that maintain symptoms of anxiety and depression. Using these models, we target and remove the maintaining factors.

How many sessions are recommended?

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence accepts research-based evidence that Patients presenting with symptoms of anxiety or depression can receive a significant benefit from CBT with between 12 and 20 sessions. However, it is common to help people with fewer sessions than this. It is common to be able to make significant progress with 6-8 sessions of CBT.

What made you want to be a consultant/HCP?

I have always been fascinated by people, and it is a wonderful joy to see people getting over their symptoms; and then being able to lead full rewarding lives

What has been your career highlight to date?

I am Director of Cognitive Behavioural Studies for the University of Cumbria and have trained over 200 Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists to work in the NHS. It is amazing to see my students going out into the world helping people get their lives back.

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