Individual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for moderate to severe depression

Strong evidence – there is lots of high-quality evidence that some young people find this treatment option helpful.

Individual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy which looks at how your thoughts, feelings and behaviour affect one another and how making changes in your thoughts and/or behaviour can improve your mood. During CBT your therapist will meet with you on your own, although they may also sometimes meet with you and your parents or carers together at the beginning or end of sessions. Your therapist will usually: 

  • talk to you about your depression and together with you try to understand what might have triggered your depression 
  • talk to you about how your depression is affecting you 
  • give you information about depression 
  • look at how your thoughts, feelings and behaviour affect one another 
  • help you to notice changes in your mood so that you can learn what kinds of things affect you most (this can help you to do things which will positively affect your mood) 
  • help you to develop a daily routine 
  • help you to plan things you can do that might lift your mood 
  • help you to spot and challenge negative patterns of thinking 
  • help you to develop problem solving skills 
  • work with you to develop a plan to stay well 

Your professional may also encourage you to write down your thoughts and feelings as part of the treatment.  

Sessions are usually held each week over 3 months, and last between 30 to 60 minutes. 

Treatments outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the treatment options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.

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