How Does CBT work?

Psychotherapy | Counselling | CBT

What is CBT?

CBT is a cognitive behavioural therapeutic model created by Aron T. Beck. A great deal of work in cognitive therapy is geared toward the identification, evaluation, and challenge of irrational thoughts (or automatic thoughts) people experience on particular occasions and that are associated with an increased aversion and are activated by our core beliefs.

Core beliefs

Core beliefs are defined as fundamental, inflexible, absolute, and generalised beliefs that people hold about themselves, others, the world, and/or the future.

How are core beliefs formed?

Core beliefs usually develop from past experiences, cultural norms, traditions, and conclusions people come up to over time. They are often formed during childhood or adolescence, but sometimes during times of substantial stress, regardless of age.

Beliefs System

Belief is the attitude that something is true. Some epidemiologists associate it with personal attitudes associated with true or false ideas and concepts. A belief system is the set of beliefs someone has and live by.

What happens underneath the visible symptoms and behaviours?

What happens when we get triggered?

The response or reaction that we have as a consequence of our thoughts, will lead to a set of emotions. This emotional reaction has a physiological dimension which corresponds to a set of hormones that are produced when these emotions are triggered.

Whereas some emotions increase the production of cortisol (the stress hormone), others stimulate the production of ‘feel-good’ hormones such as endorphins,serotonin, and Oxycontin (the bonding or love hormone).

What happens when we don't assess our thoughts?

When we fail to assess the accuracy and efficiency of our thoughts, unhealthy anxiety takes place, and we tend to behave in correspondence with the irrational thoughts, underpinning schemas and core beliefs that we have. This behaviour reinforces the vicious circle signalling the body to start the production of the corresponding hormones, which again, if we talk about cortisol (the stress hormone) our minds tend to perceive it as a threat, repeating the cycle over and over again.

The unwanted effects of holding irrational core beliefs

When a core belief is inaccurate, unhelpful, and/or judgemental (e.g., “I am worthless”), it has a profound effect on a person’s self-concept, sense of self-efficacy, and continued vulnerability to mood disturbance. Core beliefs typically centre around themes of lovability (e.g., “I am not lovable”), adequacy (“I am incompetent”), and/or helplessness, just to mention some of them.

Why is it so difficult to change irrational thoughts and core beliefs?

Irrational thoughts and core beliefs are much more difficult to elicit and modify among people suffering with anxiety or depression, as individuals become unconsciously attached to them and tend to use them as the go-to survival mechanisms, or default setting, because it helped them get through difficult times.

Some people’s tendencies to adhere to these dysfunctional schemas have to do with a difficulty to accurately assess and evaluate the losses and missed opportunities resulting from these poorly made choices. Therefore, people hold tight onto them, most of the time, without even trying to identify, question, or challenge them, regardless of the unwanted consequences. This tendency, along with the repetition of the same pattern, become the maintenance factors. (maintenance of the problem)

What are some of the unwanted consequences?

The problem with these rules and assumptions is that they are rigid and inflexible, usually setting impossible standards to which one should live one’s life, and failing to account for life’s unexpected events and challenges that invariably affect one’s ability to achieve these standards.

These assumptions exacerbate information processing biases that reinforce unhelpful core beliefs, and conversely, information processing biases strengthen the rigidity of these rules and assumptions.

Can we change our belief system?

It is possible to modify our belief system, and the greatest amount of change, and the best prevention against relapse, results when people identify unhelpful core beliefs and work using cognitive therapy strategies, to develop and embrace a healthier belief system.

Learn more about CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Find out more about the Symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety Test

To find out whether you suffer form anxiety or up to what extent your anxiety has developed, you can take the GAD-7 anxiety test, and we will get back to you with the results from your input.

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