According to the National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of therapy developed to treat anxiety disorders. CBT focuses directly on identifying and changing the behaviors and thoughts that feed an anxiety disorder. This is a very different approach from a more traditional psychodynamic therapy which tends to focus on underlying conflicts and feelings that are assumed to cause the anxiety disorder. While traditional therapy is useful, it is not sufficient to address the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. CBT offers a very efficient treatment (much less time consuming) that will enable you to feel in control of the anxiety rather than the anxiety controlling you.
According to a recent Surgeon General’s report on mental health and anxiety disorders (May, 2003), “During the past several decades, there has been increasing enthusiasm for more focused, time-limited therapies that address ways of coping with anxiety symptoms more directly rather than exploring unconscious conflicts or other personal vulnerabilities. These therapies typically emphasize cognitive and behavioral assessment and interventions” (www.surgeongeneral.gov/library).
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (www.adaa.org) writes that one of the benefits of CBT is that the “patient learns recovery skills that are useful for a lifetime”.
There are many effective CBT techniques and all of them are used at the Anxiety and Stress Management Center, including but not limited to:
- progressive muscle relaxation
- diaphragmatic breathing
- rational thinking
- exposure therapy
Some of the general goals that CBT can address are:
- Shifting the focus to increasing your control over yourself and your life, rather than over your environment;
- Changing core beliefs about yourself in order to increase your self-esteem and learning ways to assert yourself;
- Developing a strong sense of competency in personal and professional areas;
- Learning and applying effective problem-solving and coping skills;
- Decreasing and changing negative and self-defeating thought patterns which lead to positive and rational thinking;
- Increasing your ability to relax, let go of tension, and calmly approach issues thereby reducing feelings of anxiety and worry.
CBT not only is used to treat anxiety disorders but also depression, relationship issues and poor self-image. CBT can be used alone or in combination with medication.
For answers to your questions about Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or if you think that you might benefit from CBT, please call us at 215-858-7797, or email info [at] anxietyandstressmanagement [dot] com.