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How To Treat Anxiety with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT for Treating AnxietyWriters from William Shakespeare to Abraham Lincoln have weighed in on the relationship between how we think and how we feel. We’ve all heard the age-old saying “mind over matter,” and the phrase “the power of positive thinking” taken from a popular self-help book also underscores the belief that thoughts influence emotions. Perhaps best summarized by a quote attributed to Lincoln (“most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”), the idea that we can change how we feel by thinking about things differently has been around for a long time.

But is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) just a new spin on positive thinking? Does it really work when you’re struggling with a bona fide anxiety disorder, not just a little nervousness before a test or a public speaking gig? CBT is more sophisticated than the admonition to think more positively, and when used as a treatment modality by a trained therapist, CBT can be an effective intervention for people struggling to cope with crippling anxiety.

CBT was developed by psychologist Aaron Beck in the 1960s, and has been thoroughly studied as a psychotherapeutic treatment modality. Therapists can teach CBT to people in individual sessions on in groups, and people seeking relief from anxiety would then continue to practice the techniques at home.

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How does it work? Some therapists work with pencil and paper worksheets to help people with anxiety disorders use CBT, while some use interview techniques to help uncover the troubling thoughts. Allowing for some variation among therapists and treatment facilities, here are the basic steps involved in CBT.

Some of the benefits of CBT include:

Anxiety disorders can be brutal to live with, but they are also responsive to treatment. CBT is a well known, well respected and well studied psychotherapeutic technique that is relatively easy to learn and practice. The bottom line? You can kick your anxiety to the curb using CBT and get on with enjoying life.

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