Cognitive psychotherapies are psychological approaches that usually focus on difficulties in the here and now. They are based on the theory that our thoughts, feelings and behaviour are connected. The approach is commonly referred to as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Clients and therapists work together to identify and understand problems in terms of the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. In CBT the therapist aims to help the client identify thinking patterns and beliefs that lead to negative emotions.
Therapeutic techniques vary but commonly include:
- keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviours
- questioning and testing cognitions, assumptions, evaluations and beliefs that might be unhelpful and unrealistic
- gradually facing activities which may have been avoided
- trying out new ways of behaving and reacting.
Relaxation and distraction techniques are also commonly used.
CBT is sometimes used with groups of people as well as individuals, and the techniques are often adapted for self-help manuals.