Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely-used therapy for anxiety disorders. Studies have have shown it to be effective in the treatment of panic disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and many other mental health conditions.
The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughts—not external events—affect the way we feel. As an anxiety therapy, CBT addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at the world and ourselves. As the name suggests, this involves two main components:
- Cognitive therapy examines how negative thoughts, or cognitions, contribute to anxiety.
- Behavior therapy examines how you behave and react in situations that trigger anxiety.
The two common forms of CBT utilized for treatment of anxiety disorders are behavioral and cognitive therapy. In cognitive therapy, the therapist helps the patient to adapt his or her problematic thought patterns into those which are healthier. For example, the therapist might help someone with panic disorder to prevent panic attacks by teaching him or her how to mentally re-approach anxiety-inducing situations.
Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety
In behavioral therapy, the therapist will help the patient to combat undesirable behaviors which often come hand in hand with anxiety; for example, the patient will learn relaxation and deep breathing exercises to use when experiencing hyperventilation as a result of panic attacks.
Since these methods of treatment are such close cousins – both involving, in a sense, active re-education of the mind by the patient – therapists often use them together, in a broader classification of treatment called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is used to treat all six forms of anxiety disorders. There are several different specific forms of CBT which have developed in the past half-century or so. These include the following:
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
- Rational Living Therapy
- Schema Focused Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Rational Living Therapy
Another specialized form of CBT is Rational Living Therapy (RLT). RLT is utilizes elements of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, and Cognitive Therapy in a systematic approach in which the therapy progresses through a series of set points. RLT is a motivational therapy which uses Rational Motivational Interviewing techniques to help the client effect positive change. It utilizes empirical research in the areas of linguistics, cognitive development, learning theory, general semantics, neuro functioning, social psychology and perception, and linguistics.
Schema Focused Therapy for Anxiety
A specialized form of CBT is Schema Focused Therapy. Schema Focused Therapy, also called Schema Focused Cognitive Therapy proposes an integrative systematic model of treatment for a wide spectrum of chronic, difficult and characterological problems. The basic premise of this approach is that individuals with more complex problems have one or more early maladaptive schemas that must be targeted in treatment.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Anxiety
Another specialized form of CBT is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice. DBT strives to have the patient view the therapist as an ally rather than an adversary, in the treatment of psychological issues.
As with almost any illness, anxiety disorder patients must take some initiative in their treatment and recovery, whether it be by seeking help from a physician, taking medications properly and punctually, or attending and actively engaging in therapy sessions.