Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety is derived from the theory that anxiety is the result of a person constantly perceiving the world and their surroundings as dangerous. These perceptions lead to maladaptive responses between their cognitive, physiological and behavioral actions. Maladaptive cognitions include mis-perceptions or biases as to what poses a threat, worrisome thinking, perceiving images in a negative light, and a cognitive avoidance of anxiety provoking feelings. Maladaptive responses behaviorally could be avoidant behavior plus slower decision-making due to increased anxiety. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for anxiety seeks to substitute the maladaptive responses with the reactions that are more adaptive, allowing the individual to cope better in their daily life.
In order for CBT for anxiety to be successful the client typically engages in self-monitoring of feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Success hinges on the client paying attention to all the subtle fluctuations in their level of anxiety and recording patterns they’re experiencing in terms of negative or worrisome thoughts, catastrophic mental images, their physiological reactivity, avoidant behaviors and the external circumstances that trigger these kinds of responses. As clients increase their awareness of what triggers their anxiety, they improve the chances of adapting as soon as possible, using the adaptive coping mechanisms they’ve been learning in therapy.
Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety depends on identifying and replacing maladaptive responses as quickly as possible with healthier, more adaptive responses. This has two advantages; the first advantage is that the spiral of anxiety becomes weaker at the start and when the coping responses are implemented there is a better chance that the anxiety will lessen and not become so intense. Secondly, every time the anxiety spiral begins, the memory of it becomes stronger. This means that by substituting more adaptive responses early on, the maladaptive ones do not become so ingrained. Instead, the sequence of more adaptive coping responses is reinforced.
CBT for anxiety teaches clients how to set in motion adaptive responses when faced with something that previously triggered a maladaptive response, causing the trigger to lose its power and eventually, disarming the threat and reducing the fear.
Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety requires learning when and how to react with adaptive coping mechanisms. This could include relaxation techniques, desensitization, and replacing irrational thoughts with new, more adaptive thoughts or cognitions. In CBT for generalized anxiety disorder, clients learn a variety of techniques. The client can experiment with a number of different strategies, using what they learned in CBT for anxiety to decide which techniques work best. This gives them flexibility when faced with combatting an anxiety-provoking situation.
Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety often includes learning some techniques to promote relaxation. Clients practice deep breathing techniques, visualization of pleasant images, progressively relaxing the muscles, differential relaxation techniques, and relaxing on cue. This is all taught in a very relaxing, stress-free environment. Clients receiving CBT for anxiety are also taught desensitization techniques by undergoing frequent drills using their relaxation skills to defeat worrisome thoughts and imagery-provoked anxiety cues.
Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety involves identifying the core irrational beliefs and automatic thoughts that bring on anxiety. The therapist and client develop an analysis based on logic regarding the evidence and the probability of a perceived threat being real. Therapy includes helping the client develop several alternate perspectives, testing out the predictions. The goal is to reduce and eventually stop their catastrophizing thoughts and perceptions. CBT for anxiety is important in desensitizing the client to anxiety-provoking situations by giving them an adaptive perspective on the entire situation. Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety also includes homework, which is aimed at getting the client to habitually apply all the new techniques in order to strengthen their ability to adaptively cope in everyday life.
There have been many research studies that have shown the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. These studies have also shown that cognitive behavior therapy is effective in treating depression in those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder.
Because our treatment for depression and anxiety programs rely on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods. The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders. In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in seven peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. Unfortunately, in Tennessee, less half of all individuals with any mental illness in Tennessee will receive mental health treatment.
Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience anxiety differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of treatment resistant anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery. Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful. People who have completed our program have provide very high consumer satisfaction scores and reviews. Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.