Home How can therapy help? CBT How CBT Work Contact Us Psychotherapye-mail me

How CBT Work?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of talking therapy that's used to treat a wide range of mental health problems, from depression and eating disorders to phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It recommends looking at ourselves in a different way that might prove useful for all of us in everyday life.

But what happens to our brains when we have CBT? CBT is based on the idea that problems aren't caused by situations themselves, but by how we interpret them in our thoughts. These can then affect our feelings and actions. The way we think about a situation can affect how we feel and how we act For example, if someone you know walks by without saying hello, what's your reaction? You might think that they ignored you because they don't like you, which might make you feel rejected. So you might be tempted to avoid them the next time you meet. This could breed more bad feeling between you both and more "rejections", until eventually you believe that you must be unlikeable. If this happened with enough people, you could start to withdraw socially.

But how well did you interpret the situation in the first place? CBT aims to break negative vicious cycles by identifying unhelpful ways of reacting that creep into our thinking. "Emotional reasoning is a very common error in people's thinking."  CBT tries to replace these negative thinking styles with more useful or realistic ones. This can be a challenge for people with mental health disorders, as their thinking styles can be well-established.

How does cognitive behavioural therapy work on the brain?

Primitive survival instincts like fear are processed in a part of the brain called the limbic system. This includes the amygdala, a region that processes emotion, and the hippocampus, a region involved in reliving traumatic memories.

Brain scan studies have shown that overactivity in these two regions returns to normal after a course of CBT in people with phobias.

What's more, studies have found that CBT can also change the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher-level thinking.

So it seems that CBT might be able to make real, physical changes to both our "emotional brain" (instincts) and our "logical brain" (thoughts).

Intriguingly, similar patterns of brain changes have been seen with CBT and with drug treatments, suggesting that psychotherapies and medications might work on the brain in parallel ways

|Home| |How can therapy help?| |CBT| |How CBT Work| |Contact Us| |Psychotherapy|