Skip to main content

Self-help CBT techniques

You may have heard of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), wondered how it works, what it's good for and whether it could help you.

In this section you can find out about CBT, watch our short video guides and try online self-help techniques. These can help you deal with worries and unhelpful thoughts, work through problems in new ways, build resilience and boost your mental wellbeing.

This is not a full CBT course but rather some practical self-help tips and strategies based on CBT techniques.

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of talking therapy that aims to change the way we think (cognition) and act (behaviour) in order to help cope with and manage problems we may face in our lives.

It is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings and behaviour are closely linked and influence each other.

If we have unhelpful thoughts and feelings, this can lead to unhelpful behaviour, which can turn into a vicious cycle of further negative thoughts and so on.

CBT aims to help us learn to recognise these unhelpful patterns, and break down and approach problems in a different way to improve how we feel.

Does CBT work?

When practised with a therapist, CBT has been shown to be clinically effective in improving anxiety, low mood, stress and sleep problems, as well as many other mental and some physical health conditions.

In this section, you will find CBT-inspired self-help strategies, techniques and guidance you can try.

For more information or if you feel you need further support, including how to refer yourself for CBT with a therapist, visit talking therapies and counselling on the NHS website.

Self-help techniques you can try

Reframing unhelpful thoughts

It's natural to feel worried every now and again, but our anxious thoughts can sometimes be unhelpful. Learn how to step back, examine the evidence for your thoughts and explore other ways of looking at the situation.

Tackling your worries

Worrying is part of life, but if your worries feel overwhelming there are lots of things you can try to manage or overcome them. Find out about the "worry time" technique, as well as plenty more practical tips and strategies.

Problem solving

Finding new ways to work through your problems can make them feel more manageable. Learn how to tell the difference between hypothetical worries beyond your control and real problems you can tackle with practical solutions.

Bouncing back from life's challenges

Taking steps to look after your mental health every day can give you the skills you need to build resilience, cope with life's challenges and bounce back in tougher times.

Facing your fears

Avoiding situations we are afraid of can mean our fears grow. Our step-by-step strategy of how to confront and start to overcome your fears can ease anxiety and help you feel more in control.

Tackling your to-do list

Avoiding tasks and activities might feel like a relief in the short term but can make a low mood harder to shift. These strategies can help you take on your to-do list, build more structure into your life and find a better balance.

Staying on top of things

Bring together everything you have learnt and see how to make caring for your mental health a habit. This can help you protect your mental wellbeing and manage difficult situations or setbacks more easily.