There are a few different ways to treat anxiety but time has shown that therapy is the most natural and effective treatment. Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the most effective anxiety treatments.
What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the most widely used treatments for anxiety. It aims to make you realize that it isn’t the situation that makes you anxious, it is the way you think about the situation. CBT aims to reprogram the way you react to situations and help you to think logically and rationally about situations that are causing your anxiety.
CBT usually involves therapy sessions. Sessions are all about coming up with solutions to specific problems. It relies heavily on talking to the therapist about your problems, thoughts and situations that caused your anxiety. The therapist will suggest specific actions that will help you to address the problems.
Anxiety is often caused by a different way of thinking about a situation; magnifying negative thoughts or overgeneralizing or thinking people are judging you….. CBT tries to identify these problems in thinking that are causing your anxiety and then replace this way of thinking with a more realistic view of the situation.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Techniques
Certain techniques are used to try and achieve results. They usually involve talking to a trained therapist, usually over 10 to 15 hour long sessions, but you can practice the same techniques at home or online. The therapist will try to establish the specific causes of your anxiety. He will likely ask you to keep a diary and you will need to assess and go over what happened when you had your anxiety attacks, what you were thinking and what was your inner voice telling you.
The sessions will involve the therapist assessing your thought patterns and trying to come up with ideas to try and re-align your thoughts to a more rational, logical way of thinking. This will usually involve a lot of tasks for you to do at home….For example, if talking to people is triggering your anxiety the therapist may initially simply ask you to say ‘hi’ to a stranger at a bus stop, or maybe something a little harder depending on the therapist and the extent of your issues. This step is called exposure and is often the most difficult because you need to face your fears.
One technique that is often used is called exposure. As the name suggests, you will be exposed to the very thing that has been causing your anxiety. The exposure is often gradual, with the exposure getting more intense as sessions progress….it sounds harsh, and it is at first, but it does work extremely well.
It is worth noting that you don’t fail if you can’t complete the tasks that the therapist sets, there isn’t any pressure, the therapist will simply set you an easier task to break you into the CBT process and then gradually increase your exposure.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Exercises
The best thing you can do is to get professional help. They can guide you through the process and assess exactly the most effective treatments for you. Saying that, it is possible to use CBT exercises at home.
CBT Exercises aim to challenge your thoughts and argue against the error in your thinking that is causing the anxiety. Its important to keep records of all your thoughts and ideas so you can understand what is causing the anxiety.
Once you have recorded your thoughts you can start to come up with rational arguments against what you were thinking and try and come up with some exercises to help you overcome the problem.
Psychotherapists will do this in your sessions. CBT is a two way process, the patient and the psychotherapists need to work together.
We have put together a number of worksheets to help you understand the CBT process and maybe try it for yourself.
The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Process
Often people don’t understand the CBT process properly. Firstly you need to understand that CBT does take work on your behalf and you have to be willing to go through the process for it to work.
The process is:
- Identify Thoughts, Feelings & Behaviors. Keep a diary of situations that caused you anxiety and note down what thoughts you had at the time, what did you feel and what your inner voice was saying to you? How did you behave in this situation? You will need to note all of this down, the more detail the better.
- Understand the Links between Thoughts, Feelings & Behaviors. These are all linked. Your thoughts lead to your feelings which lead to your physical reaction to the situation. You need to understand what your thoughts were on the situation and why you felt that way. By changing your thoughts you can alter your feelings about the situation and you reaction to it.
- Changing your Thoughts and Behaviors. This is the difficult part and is what makes CBT so powerful. You need to refer back to your thoughts and behavior diary and ask yourself what you could have done differently. You need to challenge what you thought at the time. Write down alternative thoughts to what you had at the time. What could you have done differently? What would your friends do differently in that situation? Write down lots of different (realistic) options.
- Challenging our Thoughts. You need to understand that thoughts are not fact. They are made up in your mind. They are automatic and you don’t have too much control over them. Given this information, you can now try to challenge your thoughts instead of taking them as fact. inspect your diary for thoughts that occurred during your anxious moments and challenge those thoughts. Are they logical, is it fact? How important will it be in a years time? Is there any evidence that this thought is true?
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Worksheets
Luckily for you we have put together these worksheets to help you use CBT techniques. Feel free to use these Cognitive behavior therapy worksheets: