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CBT - Introduction

What is CBT?

CBT is an abbreviation for a type of therapy or coaching known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves analysing thoughts (cognitions) and feelings and seeking to understand when thought patterns are contributing to negative emotions or to repeat or problematic behaviour. A life coach or counsellor trained in CBT will then help clients to reframe problematic or negative thoughts or create alternative more realistic thoughts and behaviours in ways which help to give greater balance and less stress to the client.

What Problems Can CBT Help With?

CBT is often used effectively to help people who are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression or other low mental states. Research suggests it can also be effective in helping people suffering from bipolar disorder or manic depression.

A person who commonly thinks self critical thoughts or judges themself harshly and experiences low self esteem may also find that CBT can help to give them a more balanced and constructive perspective.

CBT and Distorted Thinking

Practitioners of CBT may adopt classifications of types of distorted thinking which may create stress for the person who is susceptible to them. Some of these classifications are given below by way of example:

A coach trained in cognitive behavioural techniques will help clients to identify these thought patterns and find ways of substituting more realistic and constructive ways of thinking.

One technique that a coach trained in CBT may encourage clients to use to counter negative thoughts is to make a note of what is going through their mind and then create a balancing statement. Thus for example the client might note the following thought and then create a balancing statement such as that listed:

Negative Thought

Balancing Statement

I arrived 10 minutes late. I am hopeless. I can never get to work on time.

On this occasion you arrived 10 minutes late. Punctuality is not your strong point but you can work on it to try to improve, by practical measures such as setting your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier in the morning.


In the example given, the balancing statement created by the client does not seek to pretend that there is no difficulty or that the client is perfect – after all, who is – but it helps the client to put things in perspective and come up with positive realistic actions to try out to improve their situation.

Negative self critical thoughts quite often contain words such as “never” or “should” which are either extreme or else moralistic in their self condemnation. Balancing statements aim to moderate these elements in a realistic way to help people achieve a more balanced approach to themselves, to others and to life.

CBT is a practical and very useful model for helping people to change their mindset in practical and constructive ways. It is a model frequently used with very positive results with clients and research evidence demonstrates that it is effective.


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