Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a proactive and goal oriented method of tackling anxiety and other disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques teach you to break your cycle of anxiety through five main steps, all of which serve to give you a deeper understanding of where your anxiety stems from, and how to alter your responses to anxious thoughts in a way that is healthy and beneficial.

Let’s take a look at the five main steps of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques:

1. Education and Understanding

The very first step to overcoming your anxiety with CBT is to be as informed about the disorder as possible. It’s often true that we become so absorbed in the experience of anxiety, that we lose touch with what we are actually going through. For example, many people aren’t sure if their worries or normal or not. Many people aren’t aware of how they are responding to anxiety, or if they are reacting in an unhelpful or unhealthy way. Most sufferers especially don’t understand that there are key coping methods that can help them combat anxiety. The more educated you become about the disorder, the more power you have to beat it, and CBT makes sure that you stay informed.

2. Monitoring and Tracking
Monitoring your anxiety works in two effective ways. The first is that you’ll be able to pick up on negative patterns by determining what triggers your anxiety and how you respond. The second is that you get to track your progress, so that you can determine what works for you; and have a positive sense of achievement when you look back and see how far you have come. One of the ways in which monitoring and tracking is done is by keeping a CBT journal, and this can include CBT worksheets.

3. Physical Control Strategies
Did you know that part of what causes physical symptoms of anxiety is a sensitive or out of control “fight or flight” response? This response is a natural defence all animals have for when we are in danger: a rush of adrenaline that gives us extra strength and alertness to tackle whatever danger we are facing, or extra speed and endurance to escape a dangerous situation. When we have anxiety, this response kicks in for situations that aren’t actually dangerous, and causes many of the unpleasant physical sensations of anxiety, and even panic attacks. Cognitive behavioural therapy techniques teach us to become a little less sensitive to this fight or flight response, so that the symptoms of it decrease.

4. Cognitive Control Strategies
The thought patterns that cause anxiety can be far more deeply ingrained than one may first imagine. The negative thoughts that can trigger and maintain anxious feelings are usually automatic ones – we jump to them immediately, and let them determine our emotions and behaviour without ever questioning them. Being able to identify these thoughts, question and challenge them, and replace them with healthier ones is at the very core of cognitive behavioural therapy techniques.

5. Behavioural Strategies
These strategies teach us how to respond to anxious situations healthily. Usually, the case is that we avoid situations that cause us anxiety – phoning in sick at work, or cancelling on a dinner date for example. CBT will teach us how to slowly but surely confront these situations, equipping us with the tools we need to cope with the scenario effectively.

Lastly the cognitive behavioural therapy techniques that we learn are designed to be implemented into everyday life quite easily, so that we can reduce anxiety, take control of our wellbeing, and find more peace and satisfaction within ourselves.

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