Cognitive Behavioural Therapy At The Westlake Clinic

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the term for a number of therapies that are designed to help solve problems in people's lives, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or drug misuse.

CBT was developed from two earlier types of psychotherapy:

    • Cognitive therapy, designed to change people's thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and expectations.
    • Behavioural therapy (also called behaviourism, designed to change how people acted.

American psychotherapist Aaron Beck helped to develop CBT and believed that the way we think about a situation affects how we act. In turn, our actions can affect how we think and feel. It is therefore necessary to change both the act of thinking (cognition) and behaviour at the same time. This is known as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Solving problems using CBT

CBT says that your problems are often created by you. It is not the situation itself that is making you unhappy, but how you think about it and how you react to it.

An example of how CBT can be used to solve problems is described in the following scenario.


A woman believes that her manager secretly dislikes her and is trying to undermine her job. This makes her anxious and depressed at work, so she begins to make some mistakes.

When her manager points out her mistakes, and suggests ways that she can avoid making them again, it reinforces her belief that her manager dislikes her. As she's convinced she's going to be fired, her performance drops even further. Finally, her manager loses patience with her performance and does fire her.

Applying CBT

A CBT therapist would attempt to break this downward cycle of thinking by challenging the woman's negative and unhelpful thoughts. Then the therapist would try to get her to base her behaviour on more realistic thoughts and assumptions.

The CBT therapist may point out that the manager is unlikely to undermine an employee because it's in the manager's interest to have productive and motivated staff. Instead of seeing the manager's suggestions as a personal attack, it would be more helpful for the woman to see them as support and encouragement.

The therapist and the woman would then talk about how she could act in the future based on these more realistic beliefs, such as asking for feedback about how she could improve and training to learn new skills.

The outcome

After several weeks of trying these new thinking and behavioural techniques, the woman's manager sees an improvement in her attitude and performance, and their relationship continues to improve. After several months, the manager recommends the woman for a promotion.

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