What is Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is the effective psychological therapy for anxiety problems. This is the verdict of the UK government's Department of Health in its "NICE guidelines". The NICE guidelines are expert-led reviews that the Department of Health carries out into all the various treatments for different mental health and physical health conditions, and evaluates which of these treatments have the best evidence. For every anxiety disorder, NICE's recommendations are clear that CBT should be the psychological treatment of choice. CBT is also one of the NICE-recommended psychological treatments for depression. You can access these reviews at https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance

Good quality CBT should always be personalised to your specific needs and goals. The therapy typically involves:

  • Getting a thorough understanding of the problem, and understanding why it persists. This usually involves looking together at specific situations and examples where the problem has occurred, and identifying the patterns of thinking and behaviour that may be playing a role.

  • It can also be useful to look at how these patterns have developed, and their links to past experiences. Our beliefs and coping behaviours tend to make sense in light of how past events have shaped our ideas about ourselves and our attitudes.

  • Once we have a good understanding of how the problem works, we can start to develop practical strategies to empower you to change it. Usually, this involves identifying where the unhelpful cycles are, and learning ways to break these cycles.

  • How we break unhelpful cycles involves a combination of "cognitive methods" (e.g., learning to change unhelpful thinking styles), and "behavioural methods" (e.g., confronting things that make us feel anxious, and which we might usually choose to avoid).

  • The therapy is guided by your personal goals for what you see as important to achieve by the end of therapy. My role is to develop a supportive relationship with you, show you the tools that you will need, and guide you through the entire process with clarity and professional honesty.

  • Typically, CBT is a short-term psychological therapy, where the aims are to help you to achieve the outcomes you want within the timeframe of the sessions, and give you the tools you need to keep progress going after the sessions end. The standard treatment length recommended in the NICE Guidelines for most anxiety problems ranges between 10-20 sessions.

Problems I can treat

My expertise and clinical experience is in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders and depression. This includes the following:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Body dysmorphic disorder

  • Health anxiety

  • Panic attacks/panic disorder

  • Generalised anxiety disorder

  • ​Social anxiety (including public speaking anxiety)

  • Phobias (including emetophobia)

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

  • Depersonalisation disorder

  • Tic disorders

  • Habit disorders (i.e. hair-pulling, skin-picking)

My credentials

I completed my doctoral and further training at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. My ongoing NHS commitments are at the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma at the Maudsley Hospital, a well-known national specialist clinic where many of the treatments for anxiety problems were first developed and researched. I have been based at the Centre since 2016, where part of my role involves seeing people with very severe anxiety who have often had multiple previous courses of therapy but without significant improvement. I am also involved in teaching and supervision, and have published research articles in academic journals.

I hold the following qualifications and professional registrations:

  • BSc in Psychology, University of Leeds (2006)

  • Doctor in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy), Institute of Psychiatry (2012)

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapies, Institute of Psychiatry (2013)

  • Health and Care Professionals Council, registered Practitioner Psychologist (no. PYL28986)

  • British Psychological Society, Chartered Member (CPsychol; no. 355517)

  • British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), fully accredited practitioner (no. 140708)