What is Anxiety Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? (with pictures)

B. Miller
B. Miller
Cognitive behavior therapy might help a patient learn to stop panic attacks.
Cognitive behavior therapy might help a patient learn to stop panic attacks.

Anxiety cognitive behavioral therapy, often simply abbreviated CBT for anxiety, is one of the most widely used methods of treating persistent anxiety or panic disorders through psychotherapy. In this process, the therapist will regularly meet with the patient experiencing the anxiety, and together they will begin to dissect the specific causes of the anxiety, as well as the emotions and the thought patterns associated with it. The next step in anxiety cognitive behavioral therapy is to set specific goals for changing these behaviors, and then implement strategies to change the thought process and prevent the anxiety from occurring in the first place.

Some patients with anxiety and panic disorders respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Some patients with anxiety and panic disorders respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

At its most basic, anxiety cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change the ways the patient thinks that are detrimental to his or her sense of well being. The theory is that by modifying the way the patient thinks, he or she will then begin to modify negative behaviors as well to reflect more positive thought processes. Specific methods for changing thought and for stopping negative behaviors are both included as part of anxiety cognitive behavioral therapy. This method takes some time and requires patience and persistence on the part of both the therapist and the individual receiving treatment, but it is a fairly successful option if the new strategies are maintained over the long term.

The strategies given for modifying negative thoughts and behaviors will be different for each individual undergoing anxiety cognitive behavioral therapy, depending on the particular problem that he or she is experiencing. For example, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is one type of anxiety disorder often treated through this approach. The therapist might offer strategies for ceasing obsessive behaviors, such as counting, and replacing them with something more positive. Ideas for confronting fears and negative thoughts may also be provided to help individuals overcome anxiety.

Methods for stopping panic attacks before they occur might also be part of anxiety cognitive behavioral therapy. This might involve first identifying the behaviors or triggers that tend to set off a panic attack and avoiding them, and then taking deep breaths or speaking a word aloud, such as "Stop!" when negative thoughts that lead to panic begin to occur. Over time, this can retrain the brain to refuse to give in to anxiety or panic. These are of course very simplistic examples of this type of cognitive behavioral therapy, which can sometimes be combined with medication as well, if the anxiety is particularly severe.

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    • Cognitive behavior therapy might help a patient learn to stop panic attacks.
      Cognitive behavior therapy might help a patient learn to stop panic attacks.
    • Some patients with anxiety and panic disorders respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
      Some patients with anxiety and panic disorders respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).