How CBT Works for Anxiety
Updated: Feb 11
What are the benefits of CBT Therapy for Anxiety?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a therapy approach that is commonly used by therapists to help support individuals with a range of emotional struggles, including anxiety. There is a lot of research to support its effectiveness for improving anxiety which has contributed to it being considered the ‘gold standard’ for treating anxiety by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
Let’s now see how and why CBT can be helpful for improving anxiety:
Better Understand your Anxiety
In CBT you will firstly work together with your therapist to develop a greater understanding of your anxiety difficulties by using a CBT framework. You will explore with your therapists about how your anxiety difficulties possibly developed and how they are being maintained. Having this more in-depth understanding of your difficulties can be empowering. For many people it helps them to be kinder to themselves for their anxiety struggles as they learn that it is an understandable consequence of various factors that have combined to produce it. Having a clearer picture of anxiety can give an insight into where positive changes can be made to break down vicious anxiety cycles.
It is common to worry about the unpleasant physical symptoms that can be experienced when we are anxious, such as palpitations, difficulties breathing, fuzzy head, headaches and body tension. To help reduce such worries it can be helpful in CBT to learn more about the Fight or Flight or Freeze survival response that is within all of us. This response comes about when we perceive there to be a threat and we become anxious. This survival response can help us to understand why our bodies react how they do when we feel anxious. It is a normal (albeit, unpleasant!) response and one that does not need to be feared.
Those with anxiety difficulties often have frequent worrying thoughts which can be difficult to shift and they heighten anxiety levels. In CBT you will be introduced to various strategies to tackle your worries, such as ‘thought challenging’, ‘worry period’ and through ‘behavioural experiments’. These CBT strategies have all been tried and test and have been shown to be highly effective for many people experiencing anxiety. They can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of your worries which can, in turn, lower your anxiety levels and associated unpleasant physical symptoms.
Anxiety can make relationships challenging. For example, if we worry lots about what others think about us, worry how we are coming across and whether people like us or not, this can elicit high anxiety levels which can affect our ability to establish and maintain relationships. In CBT you can be supported to tackle these worries. Your therapist can help you to explore your relationships, including supporting you to make helpful changes (if appropriate) to ways of relating to others and the dynamics that occur in your relationships.
Stop Anxiety from Holding you Back
Anxiety difficulties can lead us to put things off or avoid things altogether as it can feel too overwhelming. Although this can alleviate anxiety in the short term, in the longer term this can lead us to miss out on doing things that we want to be doing that could otherwise lead to a more fulfilling life. For example, anxiety can hold us back from going for promotions or asking someone out on a date! Avoidance also serves to strengthen anxiety in the longer term. In CBT you will be introduced to various tools and concepts to help you to gradually overcome this avoidance. As a result you can lead a more valuable and better quality of life.
The benefits of CBT for anxiety do not stop there! Here are other things that can improve with the help of CBT:
· Greater sense of control
· Work efficiency
If you would like to consider CBT for Anxiety please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or kindly complete the webform. I offer therapy in-person in St Albans/Hertfordshire and online.