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What is the Evidence that CBT Helps People?

CBT is constantly evolving by what is called “empirical evidence” or “evidence-based-practice”,
and this form of psychotherapy is constantly synchronized with the latest recommendations from the research suggesting what works best.

Until recently it was commonly perceived that encouragement to see a counsellor / psychotherapist immediately after any form of trauma was a good practice. Due to various reports we now know that it is not necessarily helpful and in one study they found it to be unhelpful or counter-productive. When we think about it we are stating the obvious. Traumas (or life events) have happened for millions of years and humans have developed successful ways to deal with these events at a pace that suits that individual. One of CBT’s methods is to focus on events and to encourage a person to discuss a difficulty (or process it) when they are not ready might actually lead to a crisis that they cannot control. The best approach is to give the person time to deal with the situation, in their own way, and if the person is still effected by the event (after 3-6 months), professional help can then be useful.

Evidence Compiled by the Government

CBT uses the evidence from research and clinical studies to formulate ideas and procedures for best practice. These are then applied on an idiosyncratic basis to individuals within therapy.

It is beyond the scope of this web page to present the evidence for CBT from the clinical studies. However, we can say that the best available evidence supports CBT for these problems.

NICE is the independent organisation responsible for providing national health care guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health. Clinical guidelines are “guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS in England and Wales”.

Below you can download PDF versions of the guidelines.

Treatment Choice in Psychological Therapies
and Counselling (DoH)

The Department of Health has also produced supporting information on CBT in it’s documents which looked at the most popular types of psychotherapy.

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