Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Glossary of Terms

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a cognitive behavioural method of psychology that teaches us to notice, accept and embrace our thoughts, feelings and actions. A critical assumption of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is that pain and suffering are a normal and unavoidable part of human experience and that it is our attempts to control and avoid these experiences that actually lead to more long-term suffering. Consequently, what ACT teaches us is to accept what is out of our control and instead commit to action that seeks to enrich our lives. The goal of therapy is not to eliminate certain parts of our experience but rather to learn how to deal with these painful events. During therapy you will learn the skills to recognise, recontextualise and eventually accept these events, and develop greater clarity about what values are important to you and commit to change.

Cognitive Analytical Therapy

Cognitive analytic therapy is a form of therapy that seeks to answer questions such as ‘why do I always end up feeling like this?’. It seeks to examine how problems and difficulties faced may be being worsened by our habitual coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms may have been set up in childhood as a way of coping with emotional difficulties or deprivation. Together, you and your therapist will work to recognise these maladaptive strategies and work out how to use your strengths to bring about change.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a form of psychotherapy which combines cognitive and behavioural therapies with the aim of helping individuals change how they think and behave. Unlike other forms of psychotherapy, CBT focuses specifically on the problems and difficulties we are facing in the present, rather than the past. CBT focuses on the thoughts, beliefs and attitudes we hold (our cognitive processes) and how this interacts with our behaviour to create our emotional problems. Fundamentally, CBT is based on the theory that it is not the events themselves that upset us, but the meanings we attach to them. Thereby, our thoughts can prevent us from seeing things that do not fit with what we believe is true. As such, CBT helps us to see the alternative explanation and enjoy the rewards of seeing events differently.


Counselling is an umbrella term that covers a range of talking therapies in which individuals are provided with a safe and supportive environment to explore problems they are experiencing in their lives. Problems faced may centre around a specific issue, numerous conflicts, or the need to simply gain greater confidence. Counselling can help overcome the feelings of embarrassment and fear of upsetting those we love that can sometimes make it difficult to talk to friends and family. Talking to a trained professional can help you look at problems from a different perspective and equip you with the necessary strategies to overcome problems effectively.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behaviour therapy is a close relative of cognitive behavioural therapy; it was initially developed for individuals with borderline personality disorder who cope with distressing emotions by using self-destructive behaviours such as self-harm, substance misuse, and eating disorders. During therapy, the therapist uses acceptance strategies to explain to clients that their behaviour (e.g. self-harm, substance misuse, etc), is understandable as it is the only way they have learned to deal with intense emotions. However, the therapist will then explain that this method is not the best solution to these negative emotions and can begin to demonstrate more effective ways of dealing with intense negative emotion.

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