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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a structured approach to overcoming mental health difficulties. CBT is based on the idea that what you think (cognitions) and what you do (behaviours) affects the way you feel. Sometimes we can get stuck in a cycle of unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours which can worsen feelings of low mood, stress and anxiety. CBT works by making practical changes in your thoughts and/or behaviours to break this cycle.

Is CBT right for me? 

We all experience difficult times in our lives and each one of us will feel moments of sadness, pain, and isolation. Such emotions are part of the human experience, and are usually balanced with other feelings of happiness, well-being and contentment.  

Sometimes however, difficult feelings and behaviours can become overwhelming and do not seem to pass with the usual ups and downs of life. At times like these, you may wish to consider whether CBT might be beneficial to you.

CBT can be used to tackle difficulties such as:

Depression and low mood Eating difficulties Panic
General anxiety and worry Phobias Perfectionism
Procrastination Social Anxiety Sleep difficulties
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Illness (Health) Anxiety Stress

What to expect if you are referred for CBT

If you are offered ongoing CBT sessions you will have an initial assessment with a practitioner who will explain what to expect, the limits of confidentiality and our attendance/cancellation policies. You will be encouraged to describe your situation and the issues you are facing so that you can agree on the best course of action. The CBT we offer is short-term and you will have the opportunity to discuss the number of sessions that seem suitable with the practitioner during your initial assessmentIf you require longer-term support we can help you to find another service that may be able to offer this.

CBT can be delivered in a range of formats to support the student. We follow a stepped care model which recommends accessing the most effective, least intrusive intervention first. This means we often advise that you access CBT-based self-help before progressing on to one-to-one CBT. You may be offered:

  • CBT-based self-help
  • Computerised CBT (cCBT) - SilverCloud
  • Group CBT
  • One-to-one CBT

Within the service we have practitioners who deliver low-intensity CBT (CBT2) and high-intensity CBT (CBT3). In line with the stepped care model, we usually recommend starting at CBT2 for one-to-one support. You may be 'stepped up' to CBT3 due to the severity and/or complexity of your current problem(s).

Outside referrals

Some personal difficulties may require specialist support that is not available within this service. Other students may wish to pursue longer-term CBT, or another form of psychological therapy. An outside referral may then be the preferred option. Other reasons we may refer you to an external service might include:

  • When there is a high demand for ongoing CBT
  • When you wish to pursue further CBT but have graduated or interrupted your studies
  • When you prefer to see a practitioner who has no connection to the University 

We also work alongside the local NHS service TALKWORKS. One of their practitioners works one day per week on Streatham campus, so there may be an opportunity for you to be seen by the NHS team on campus. Students can also be seen at other NHS buildings in Exeter by the TALKWORKS team.