Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Original Editor - Rachael Lowe

Top Contributors - Scott Buxton, Vidya Acharya, Kim Jackson, Rachael Lowe and Mariam Hashem

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a method that can help manage problems by changing the way patients would think and behave. It is not designed to remove any problems but help manage them in a positive manner [1] [2].

Behaviour therapy (BT) was developed in the 1950’s independently in three countries: South Africa, USA and England [3]. It was further developed to Cognitive Therapy (CT) in the 1970’s by Dr Aaron Beck with its main application on people with depression, anxiety and eating disorders [1] [4]. However, the main evidence today focuses on CBT, after the merging of BT and CT in the late 80’s [5].

Fig.2 - Breakdown of CBT theory
Fig.2 - Breakdown of CBT theory

The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Model

CBT model (2).png
Fig.3 - Factors involved within the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Model

Aaron Beck and Christine Padesky first recognised this CBT model in the 1970s [6].

How it is Used

Negative thoughts (e.g., "My back pain is uncontrollable" --> Negative feelings (e.g., depression, anger) and maladaptive health behaviours (e.g., skipping treatment sessions) --> Reinforcing negative cycle.

If one negative thought can be changed or better understood, then it can break down this negative cycle. This can be addressed through education and methods to manage symptoms [6].


  1. 1.0 1.1 Beck, J., 1995. Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond. Guildford Press: New York
  2. NHS Choices, 2012. Cognitive behavioural therapy. [online] Available at:[Accessed 8th Jan 2014]
  3. Öst, L.G., 2008. Efficacy of the third wave of behavioral therapies: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Behaviour research and therapy, 46(3): 296–321
  4. Hayes, S.C., 2004. Acceptance and commitment therapy, relational frame theory, and the third wave of behavioral and cognitive therapies. Behavior Therapy, 35: 639–665
  5. Roth, A., Fonagy, P. “What works for whom? A critical review of psychotherapy research”. 2nd ed. Guilford Press: New York 2005
  6. 6.0 6.1 Beck, A.T., 1976. Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders. New York: International Universities Press