Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The idea behind CBT is to change the way you think and therefore what you do and how you react. Its focus is on the present, the ‘here and now’ rather than looking at causes. This has the advantage of looking at what’s going on at the minute with a view to changing it, but the flip side of this is that, what’s going on at the minute are ‘symptoms’ of something deeper. And that ‘something deeper’ might be in the past.

The idea behind CBT is to break a major problem down into its constituent parts with the idea that it’s easier to solve small problems than one big one. It’s a very logical therapy where you list the various components… emotions, thoughts, feelings and actions. if you change any one of these, the others will change with it, e.g. change the way you think about something and it will give you a different emotional response making you feel differently about it and this leads to a different reaction or behaviour to that thought.
Once you change the way you think and get a different result, this new result feeds back into the subconscious and reinforces this new way of thinking. This is called a feedback loop.

There is a computer program available called Fear Fighter which is NHS approved and designed to help eliminate panic attack symptoms, which is great for agoraphobia sufferers because you can do it at home. The drawback is that if cash is tight, free access must be prescribed by your GP and as we have heard so many stories about GP’s refusing to come out to the home, this could be an issue.

Personal CBT therapy is available on the NHS, but again must be prescribed by a GP and everyone we know who has been prescribed it, had to wait for ages to get it and even then, sometimes they had to travel to a neighbouring town, so this is very limiting for the agoraphobics amongst us.

Our View - Good and Not so Good


Talking Therapy – this depends on your viewpoint, for some this is good.

About the ‘here and now.’

Logical Progression

Online system available

Therapists are not supposed to ask you to do things you don't want to do.

Once learned you can use CBT yourself

The best therapy available on the NHS (if truthful its about all they have other than drugs)

Not so Good

Talking Therapy – this depends on your viewpoint and for some people, this flat out fails.

Whilst individual therapists might ask you about your past, CBT is all about the present, so if the cause of your anxiety is routed in past experiences, it might still be active in your subconscious thus limiting success.

Even though therapists are not supposed to ask you to do things you don't want to do. To be successful you really need to face your anxiety head on and do things that might bring on the panic attack symptoms

CBT isn't for everyone and has a limited success rate. That said it works for some.

Not a quick fix, CBT takes a lot of time and effort.

Useful CBT links

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
Calipso website:
Fear Fighter:

Further information on CBT (

Further reading

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness
by Constable and Robinson

A self-help book using the theories and concepts of CBT to help people overcome social anxiety

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