Cognitive behavioral therapy can be a highly effective treatment for anxiety. If you struggle with an anxiety disorder, you know how debilitating the condition can be. You may feel like your anxious thoughts have taken over your life and are controlling all of your decisions. CBT helps to ease your anxiety and regain control over your own mind.
No two people have exactly the same response to therapy, but CBT is one of the most commonly used techniques for anxiety disorders because the research so strongly supports its benefits. The Beverly Hills Therapy Group offers CBT as one of our many specialties. If you’re considering therapy for anxiety, you should understand how CBT works and what its benefits are for anxiety disorders.
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is an approach to counseling that focuses on the relationship between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When an anxious thought enters your mind, you have an immediate emotional reaction. Then, these emotions influence your actions. It’s very easy to become stuck in a negative cycle of anxious thinking, but CBT aims to disrupt that cycle.
CBT for anxiety equips you with specific, actionable tools you can use to stop your negative thinking patterns and engage in healthy behaviors. It requires you to take an active role in the process. Your therapist will introduce you to techniques to reduce your anxiety that you’ll then practice applying in your day-to-day life. By challenging your harmful thoughts and changing your behaviors, you can start to feel a stronger sense of control over your anxiety.
CBT Techniques for Anxiety
CBT for anxiety can involve a variety of therapeutic techniques. Therapy is always personalized, so your counselor will work with you to find the methods that have the most powerful impact on your life.
The following are some of the most common techniques used in CBT for anxiety:
The purpose of CBT for anxiety is to change your thinking patterns, so gaining a better understanding of your thoughts is often the first step. Your therapist might give you “homework” to keep a log of your anxiety and harmful thoughts or emotions. Eventually, you’ll work on replacing anxious thoughts with positive ones. At first, though, your therapist will encourage you just to keep track of your experiences. You’ll likely notice a pattern in the situations that trigger your anxiety.
Cognitive restructuring, also known as reframing, is at the heart of CBT for anxiety. As you learn to recognize your anxiety, your therapist will help you identify the flaws in your thinking. Then, you can more easily replace anxious thoughts with positive ones.
For example, if your supervisor gives you constructive criticism on a project, your anxiety might tell you that you’re a failure or that you’re terrible at your job. This is a cognitive distortion called overgeneralization that affects many people with anxiety disorders. To challenge these thoughts, you can instead tell yourself that everyone gets constructive feedback at work and that one project is not a reflection of your entire performance. By reframing the way you think about the situation, you avoid having an intensely emotional response.
Anxiety disorders can be incredibly isolating. Your anxiety may prevent you from spending time with friends, engaging in hobbies, or going out into public. However, these avoidant behaviors can make your anxiety and other negative emotions worse. Your emotions impact your behavior, and your behavior impacts your emotions.
Behavioral activation encourages you to take positive action in ways that lift your mood. Your therapist will help you figure out what activities or experiences have the best impact on your emotional state. Then, you’ll create a plan to engage in those activities. If your anxiety prevents you from doing the things you love, your therapist will also help you challenge those anxious thoughts.
Relaxation techniques have powerful benefits for anxiety disorders. Your therapist may encourage you to try different relaxation exercises during your sessions, but over time, you’ll learn to use them to ease your anxiety in your daily life. Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular exercises for anxiety because it helps you become aware of your thoughts and feelings without experiencing an emotional reaction. Progressive muscle relaxation is another great exercise that can help with both the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety.
Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety
Cognitive behavioral therapy has a wide variety of benefits for people with anxiety disorders. While some forms of therapy focus mainly on your thoughts and feelings, CBT gives you specific, actionable strategies that you can apply to your daily life. For people with anxiety, this can feel much more purposeful and intentional than some other forms of counseling. CBT can give you a sense of control over your thoughts and behaviors, which is a relief for those who feel overpowered by their anxiety.
CBT for anxiety is also meant to be a short-term form of therapy. While everyone’s experience differs, many people see a significant change in their anxiety within a few months. If your anxiety is severely affecting your life, a treatment that provides noticeable results this quickly is extremely valuable. As long as you commit to the process and do your homework, CBT can make a huge difference in a short time frame.
The skills you learn in CBT can last a lifetime, too. Once you learn to recognize your anxious thoughts and restructure them, you can continue to apply this strategy on your own. Because you take such an active role in the therapy process with CBT, you gain a long-lasting sense of self-awareness and understanding of your own anxiety. Some people choose to remain in therapy long-term or go back from time to time, but your first course of CBT can lay a strong foundation for the rest of your life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Beverly Hills, Ca
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group offers CBT for anxiety and other mental health conditions. Untreated anxiety can take over your life, but therapy is an excellent way to take charge of your mental health. Our therapists understand how anxiety can impact your life, and we’re ready to work with you to find the best strategies for managing your symptoms. If you’re looking for support with your mental health, you can reach out to us today to connect with a cognitive behavioral therapist in Beverly Hills.