How to Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety
CBT is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders and can be combined with other types of therapies. It involves altering negative thoughts and behaviors that cause anxiety to arise or worsen, as well as preventing it from becoming a long-term issue.
The initial step in therapy is recognizing the underlying causes of anxiety. This involves understanding how your thoughts and beliefs shape your emotions, behaviors, and physical symptoms. People suffering from anxiety often have difficulty rationalizing their issues or don’t understand where their fears originate from.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals become aware of their irrational thinking patterns and provides them with tools for change. Additionally, CBT teaches relaxation techniques and coping skills.
In many cases, therapists will ask you to keep a written journal of your thoughts. This can help you become more cognizant of your patterns of thought and enable the therapist to identify negative automatic thoughts (ANTs).
Practice making positive changes by writing down your irrational thoughts and replacing them with more realistic ones, like: “It’s not that bad” or “I have the capacity to handle this situation.” Once you do succeed in challenging an ANT, replace it with a new belief like: “I can handle this situation” or “I will be fine.”
CBT can also be utilized through activity monitoring. A therapist may ask you to write down what you do when experiencing anxiety-provoking emotions such as trembling or shaking, then compare that behavior with how relaxed or unstressed you feel when not anxious.
By being aware of when your symptoms are caused by feelings, and by what actions you take when feeling more positive (e.g., talking to someone or exercising), you can learn strategies for dealing with anxiety-provoking situations in the future.
Once you identify a good therapist who specializes in treating your anxiety issues, it’s essential to try different ones until you find one who works best for you. Finding an appropriate therapist may not always be straightforward, but it could be worth the effort when seeking the right help for your individual needs.
It may be beneficial to start with a therapist who is experienced in CBT and familiar with anxiety. You can consult your doctor or search online to locate an accredited therapist in your area who practices CBT.
At your initial session with your therapist, they will get to know you and what concerns you have. Your goals for therapy will then be taken into consideration and they’ll create a plan of action for you to work toward. They may also discuss whether CBT is suitable for you in this instance.
Your therapist will likely explain the fundamentals of CBT and how it can benefit you. They may draw a model of how thoughts and feelings are connected, as well as identify different types of distorted thinking which may cause symptoms to manifest or worsen.