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CBT for Anxiety

This is a basic introduction to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (short: CBT).   If you experience anxiety and don’t really know what CBT is or how it works, it’s for you. 

Here we are not going to get too technical, we are only concentrating on the main concept behind this approach.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has been used for decades and it is considered by many experts and clinicians to be the most effective anxiety treatment choice.

 It’s a mix of techniques that helps people understand the connexion between their emotions, feelings, and behaviors. 

And all of that builds on one central insight:


Thoughts Contribute to feelings.

In other words, our Thinking affects our feelings and not what happens to us. It’s not the circumstances themselves which make us nervous. It is our situational experience. Let’s take a closer look at this process, to really understand that. So this is how it plays out in your head:

A) It always begins when something is happening around you. There’s happening outside. You could be strolling through a park for example and seeing a wild dog running towards you. B)What happens next is that your brain can experience the occurrence and interpret what it may mean. In other words: A question about this case pops up. In our example: ‘Oh my Gosh, I want this dog to bite me! This understanding activates an action and an emotion. C)You experience a blast of panic in this situation, and run away.

Let’s take this definition further:

You turn around another corner after running for a minute and then you stop running. You turn around and the dog walks away.

You are now sure you are safe. Your unconscious thinking is: ‘Phew, I’ve made this.’

As a result, you feel a small relaxation and your body begins to settle down once more. You keep going on.

We will continue, and continue. Whatever you do, and whatever feelings you feel, the pattern will always follow. 

(1) Occurrence > 

(2) Thought > 

(3) Emotion and Behavior.

Now what Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy means is this: feelings like fear often come from ideas that are irrational.

“I am an absolute loser. Never have I got it right. “No-one likes me. I am a person of the second rank.’ “What if that’s not good enough for my work? I will lose my employment.’

And if we want to overcome anxiety, then we need to learn how to identify those irrational thoughts first, and then overcome them. CBT proposes this main strategy: If we want to overcome anxiety, then we need to learn how to improve our mindset. If we want to get better at this, we need to draw on a few skills: Learn to discern skewed thoughts Challenging them and suggesting alternate explanations Tolerate doubt Learn to be more compassionate to ourselves

Over the years, a variety of different techniques have been developed to help build these skills. Just like learning to play tennis or piano, they take a while to master. But by applying these techniques regularly, we learn to break the cycle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that causes anxiety. And — as research shows — this can make a real difference.

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October 6, 2020

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