Dr Gerry Kearns

B.Sc.(hons), PG.Cert ,
PG.Dip, M.A., M.Phil, Ph.D

Tel: 0753 4933343

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
 and Research Services

A cost-effective & confidential therapy service
for the East Midlands

Located near
J22 of the M1 at




About CBT and Therapy

What is CBT?

CBT is a talking therapy which has been shown to be effective in treating    common psychological and emotional difficulties. It is also used for pain management and other physical conditions as well as relationship issues.

It is based on comprehensive research evidence of what works, and on established cognitive and behavioural models of how and why psychological and emotional problems develop and are maintained.

How does it work?

CBT is based on 5 key areas (or elements) which we know strongly influence each other and give rise to patterns of thought, behaviour and emotions. In all cases of psychological distress there will be patterns of thought, feelings and behaviour that maintain and exacerbate difficulties and distress. Sometimes clients will recognise some of these patterns, but more commonly they are not  fully aware of the ones that maintain their difficulties.

The 5 interacting elements in CBT are:

  • Cognitions = Our thoughts and beliefs
  • Behaviour = What we do or don’t do
  • Body = Our physical reactions
  • Emotions = Our mood
  • Environment = Our circumstances and relationships (represented by circle)
Circle of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy       cbtcircleb-450


Many of our thoughts are actually “Automatic thoughts”. In response to a variety of triggers these thoughts occur without us having to think about them. They just pop up and can be in the form of verbal thoughts or images.

Often we are not aware we are having automatic thoughts or we are not aware that we are having an emotional response to our thoughts.

Automatic thoughts are an integral part of all our thinking processes and many will reflect underlying beliefs that we have about ourselves and about the world in general. 

Thoughts are closely linked to our mood and our mood is closely linked to our thoughts.

If we feel anxious we will experience anxious thoughts and if we are having anxious thoughts we will feel anxious. If we feel depressed we will have a series of depressed negative automatic thoughts and because we are feeling low we feel even more depressed and so on.

Our physical responses and our behaviour also change in response to our thoughts and mood and these in turn influence our thoughts and mood.

It is this interaction between the different elements that establish both the short term and long term patterns (or loops) that maintain psychological distress. In CBT these are often referred to as “vicious circles”.

The object of CBT is to identify and change these patterns in order to secure immediate benefit and to understand how these patterns emerged in order to maintain improvement in the long term.

Treatment goals directly target distressing symptoms, reduce distress, help re-evaluate thinking patterns and beliefs, and promote helpful behavioural responses by promoting solution focussed interventions.

Is it one size fits all? 

No, although we use a number of well established techniques and a research based understanding of human cognitive and behavioural processes, CBT is tailored to the individual because their circumstances, their thought patterns, and their emotional and behavioural responses are unique.

If one person has a belief that they should be perfect then they may strive to be very successful in their career, whilst another person with the same belief may avoid applying for promotion in order to avoid possible failure.

Similarly a person experiencing anxiety in a supermarket may change their behaviour subtlety such as gripping their shopping trolley because they think they might faint, whilst another may run out of the shop and  start to avoid supermarkets altogether. Another may only shop when they know the store is not busy.

In CBT the devil is in the detail and everyone’s’ details are unique, as are their life experiences and individual circumstances.

What happens in therapy? 

Therapy normally lasts 50 minutes although a major component of CBT involves the client carrying out tasks between therapy sessions. These tasks are agreed between client and therapist and are based on a shared understanding of the problems.

Together the client and therapist identify how these problems affect thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical functioning and work together in order to find solutions that are more helpful than the present way of coping.

The aim of therapy is for the client to learn to be their own therapist and use the skills learned during therapy in order to maintain their improvement.

CBT is generally focussed on what is happening in the present, although in some cases it is useful to explore early experiences or past trauma in order to develop an understanding of how thought patterns and beliefs were formed by these experiences. However, in other cases such as phobias, simple desensitising and exposure exercises may be all that is required.

The goals of treatment and the pace of treatment are determined by the client.

Progress is monitored throughout therapy by the use of well established psychological rating scales, by the attainment of specified goals and by client ratings of their subjective experience.

This informs therapy by identifying areas of improvement that can be built upon and problematic areas that have to be addressed further.

In CBT therapy is structured towards identifiable goals and progress can be seen, felt and also measured.