Things to consider

Research has shown cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be as effective as medicine in treating depression and other mental health problems.

However, for CBT to be successful, a committed approach is required, and it may not be suitable for everyone.

Some advantages and disadvantages of CBT are listed below.

Advantages of CBT

  • Research has shown CBT can be as effective as medicine in treating many types of depression and other mental health disorders.
  • CBT can be completed in a relatively short period of time compared with other types of talking therapies.
  • The highly structured nature of CBT means it can be provided in different formats, including in groups, self-help books and computer programs.
  • Skills you learn in CBT are useful, practical and helpful strategies that can be incorporated into everyday life to help you cope better with future stresses and difficulties.


  • To benefit from CBT, you need to commit yourself to the process. A therapist can help and advise you, but cannot make your problems go away without your co-operation.
  • Due to the structured nature of CBT, it may not be suitable for people with more complex mental health needs or learning difficulties.
  • Some critics argue that because CBT only addresses current problems and focuses on specific issues, it does not address the possible underlying causes of mental health conditions, such as an unhappy childhood.
  • CBT focuses on the individual’s capacity to change themselves (their thoughts, feelings and behaviours), and does not address wider problems in systems or families that often have a significant impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing.

How effective is CBT?

CBT can help you manage problems, such as anxiety and depression and make them less likely to have a negative impact on your life.

There is always a risk that bad feelings you associate with your problem will return, but with your CBT skills it should be easier for you to control them.

Even after you are feeling better and your sessions have finished, it is important you practise your CBT skills. Some research suggests CBT may be better than antidepressants at preventing the return of depression.

‘Refresher’ CBT courses are also available if you feel you need to go through skills you have learnt again. 

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