In this post, we’ll offer some information about what happens during a typical course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, answering some frequently asked questions and helping to allay any concerns or anxieties about the process that can often prevent individuals from seeking support.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive-behavioural therapy – better known as CBT – is a type of talking therapy that addresses the way we think and behave. As a heavily researched model of psychotherapy, The National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends CBT in the treatment for a range of emotional problems, including depression and anxiety. Through understanding of how our thoughts and behaviours influence and maintain our moods, we can generate healthier coping strategies and challenge our fears.

CBT – What to Expect

A typical CBT course of treatment tends to be structured and time-limited. Each session contains a specific focus or goal that we will agree between us. Typically, you can expect that much of the hard work is conducted in between sessions – homework-based tasks are a key element to the effectiveness of CBT and, between us, we will devise weekly homework goals.

As a CBT therapist, I believe in the importance of writing things down and illustrating things visually. I often provide my clients with handouts or notes from the sessions – this will help you remember what we have covered and is a useful prompt to refer back to in future. You can expect to have a pile of both of our scribblings by the end of your course of therapy!

Your First CBT Session

At your first CBT session, you can expect a warm welcome from me – I will either greet at the door or meet you in the waiting area at the entrance.

As the first session is often quite anxiety provoking for many clients (particularly those who haven’t attended therapy before) it’s my job to do all I can to create a comfortable and welcoming environment where you feel able to express yourself freely and without judgement.

It’s important in this first session to remember that you’re the expert when it comes to your life and experiences. This is your opportunity to share your difficulties with me to see if I can help. The session will last for 50 minutes. During this initial session, we will discuss what has brought you to therapy, and what you would like to get out of it. The first session is also a chance for you to learn more about CBT and to determine whether you would like to work with me.

After your First CBT Session: What Happens Next?

Typically following a first session, I would suggest whether a course of CBT is appropriate for your needs or whether I feel another model of therapy would be more fitting. If this is the case, I will provide recommendations and other therapeutic avenues to explore.

If we both agree that CBT is well suited to your needs and requirements, we will then discuss a treatment plan moving forward. This plan will outline a recommended number of sessions – this typically ranges between 4-16 weekly 50 minute sessions.

Do I Need to Bring Anything with Me?

Do make sure you’ve completed the client information form, which can be returned to me at our first meeting. It’s also important that you take time to read through the client contract and privacy notice provided before the treatment commences.

It’s a good idea to bring a pen and a notepad or a folder to keep notes in – this will help to ensure that you get the very best out of your sessions. Other than that, I encourage all my clients to come to their session with an open mind and a willingness to sit back and reflect on what you’d like to achieve from this therapy.

How Do I Get Started with CBT?

The first step is to get in touch – you can contact me using any of the methods listed on the contact page.

I offer all clients a free 15-minute telephone consultation before our first meeting to establish briefly what you are seeking help for. This will enable me to plan for your first session, or to signpost you to other types of psychotherapy, if necessary.

If you’d like to find out more about me and my approach to CBT, please visit my social media page.

Written by Fleur Dewsnap