The good and bad side of cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of talking therapy in which a therapist will address a patient’s underlying problems, breaking it down into smaller and more manageable parts to show how they can change their ways of thinking and behavioural patterns.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is often used to treat anxiety and depression, but it can also help with:

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Other long-term health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

Although cognitive behavioural therapy cannot affect or cure the actual physical conditions, it helps patients cope with their conditions better.

The advantages

Cognitive behavioural therapy is effective in cases where the patient does not see an improvement with medication alone. It does not take as much time as other types of therapy.

In addition, cognitive behavioural therapy is structured in a way that it can be offered in various formats, including group therapy, self-help books, and online programmes.

Most people enjoy cognitive behavioural therapy because it teaches them practical strategies that can be applied to everyday life. It provides patients with solutions to improve their mind on a daily basis.

The disadvantages

First of all, cognitive behavioural therapy requires a high level of commitment. Your therapist cannot help if the patient does not cooperate.

The frequency of therapy sessions can be a challenge if patients have a busy lifestyle. Besides, due to the highly structured nature of the therapy, it may not be a good choice for those with complex mental problems or learning difficulties.

Many people are afraid of cognitive behavioural therapy since it forces them to face the roots of anxiety. If patients choose this type of therapy, they should be prepared for an initial period of fear and discomfort.

Another significant drawback is that cognitive behavioural therapy does not address other issues that may have a huge impact on the patient such as families and social factors.

As effective as cognitive behavioural therapy is, it is not suitable for everyone. While it may work wonders for some, others may not benefit from it.

Moreover, cognitive behavioural therapy tends to target the specific issue rather than the cause of it. The therapy focuses on working out present problems rather than past problems.

For example, someone with a mental condition resulting from a childhood trauma may not see much improvement from taking cognitive behavioural therapy.

This article first appeared in and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.