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Treating Anxiety With Therapy

Last Updated: September 8, 2022

Do you ever find yourself struggling with things like obsessive thoughts, constant worrying, or panic attacks? Well, if you do, understand that even though these things can seem like they are never-ending, you don’t have to live with them for the rest of your life- there are ways that anxiety can be treated. A common and most effective kind of anxiety treatment is therapy. Why? Well, anxiety therapy doesn’t just scratch the surface of your problems. It dives deeper into the why. It can uncover the underlying causes of your fears and worries, teach you how to calm down, take a step back and look at a scary situation in less scary ways, and work with you to come up with better coping mechanisms. Anxiety therapy doesn’t just give you a toolbox to overcome anxiety but teaches you how to use each and every one of those tools in the most efficient way.

Anxiety and its severity can range from person to person, so finding an anxiety therapist that is best for you is vital to your therapy journey. This is why therapy is so great, though, because something like anxiety is different for everyone, the sessions can be specifically catered to your needs. This can also be true for the length of your therapy. However, many anxiety therapies are relatively short-term which makes the light at the end of the tunnel visible and can motivate you even more. 

Although there are multiple types of treatments and therapies for anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is one of the most commonly used.  Research has proven it to be extremely effective in the treatment of a panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, among many other conditions.

However, that doesn’t mean that this is the only method that can be used within your sessions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, can be combined with other types of therapy methods, and that is all determined from person to person. Whether you are in group or private therapy, the end goal is the same, which is to decrease your anxiety levels or anxiety attacks, ease your mind, and help your mind overcome fears that can hold you back. 

How does Cognitive Behavior Therapy Work though? Well, it is relatively simple. CBT finds and addresses negative patterns in the way we look at the world and ourselves. As the name suggests, this involves two main components:

  1. Cognitive therapy, which by textbook definition means: examines how negative thoughts, or cognitions, contribute to anxiety.
  2. Behavior therapy, which by textbook definition means examines how you behave and react in situations that trigger anxiety.

In simpler terms, this means that our thoughts, rather than not external events, affect the way we feel. Instead of the situation that one finds themselves in determining the way you feel, it’s the perception of the situation that is the true factor of your feelings.

Here’s an example- You’ve just been invited to your friend’s big birthday party. Now, rather than thinking about how the party can affect you, examine the ways of perceiving the invitation, and how these perceptions can affect your emotions about the situation.  

Thought #1:  “Wow! That party sounds like it would be a lot of fun. I would love to go out, support my friend on her birthday, see my friends and meet new people.”

Emotions: Happy, excited.

Thought #2: “I don’t think this kind of big party is for me. I would rather stay home by myself.”

Emotions: Neutral, uninterested. 

Thought #3: I don’t know many people that are going to be there, and I never know what to do or say when I meet new people. I don’t want to make a bad impression and make a fool of myself.  

Emotions: Anxious, sad.

Instead of letting your negative emotions and thoughts get the best of you, here is where the challenging part comes in. It is time to reconstruct the way you think. So, instead of letting the negative emotions outweigh the positive, let the positive feelings shine through. This can have a huge impact on your anxiety. It is especially hard to do this by yourself though, when your anxiety and emotions are strong it can be tough to challenge yourself. This is why having a therapist there to guide you through it is so helpful.