Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help people manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave. It is often used to treat anxiety and depression.
Research has shown that CBT, combined with accurate information about the risks involved with allergies, can be helpful in reducing anxiety in mothers who have children with food allergies. Importantly, the mothers gained a more realistic understanding of the risks their children faced – as the risks were lower than they imagined.
CBT can also be helpful for developing a ‘risk strategy’ for weighing up the risks of a given situation, how you can reduce the risk, and whether it’s a risk you are willing to take. All allergies bring an element of risk so it’s important to assess how much is acceptable for you. For example, some patients feel eating out would be too risky, whereas others feel this is a risk they want to take and make plans to manage the situation.
CBT is not suitable for everyone but it could be worth considering if anxiety is impacting your everyday life and restricting ordinary activities.
In many areas of the UK you can get psychological therapies, including CBT, on the NHS. You don’t need a referral from your GP – you can refer yourself directly. Choose a CBT therapist who is accredited by The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies. You can find one in your area at www.cbtregisteruk.com/
In Scotland, it is not possible to self-refer for CBT. Your GP or another healthcare professional may be able to refer you to a qualified therapist for free treatment on the NHS. However, waiting lists for NHS treatment in Scotland are often long.
The NHS funded Living Life service offers telephone support to people in Scotland through cognitive behavioural therapy. You can refer yourself for an assessment by phoning 0800 328 9655 (Monday to Friday: 1pm – 9pm).