WHAT IS COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY?
Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, is a popular therapeutic technique that focuses on behaviors over feelings. It is often a good type of treatment when problems can be addressed and impacted by changes in behavior. The idea is that we can all work on changing our actions in spite of how we may feel. The origin of emotions can be quite complex and a combination of genetics and life. How we feel may be a normal reaction to conscious and unconscious triggers that at times may create or exacerbate reactions that we would like to change. In therapy you work on this change by identifying the behaviors you would like to pursue and identifying specific strategies or action steps for change.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly helpful with reducing some types of anxiety. Anxiety often is accompanied by avoidance or discomfort in activities we would like to pursue. By identifying the roadblocks and engaging in small incremental steps to change, you can decrease the emotional reaction that is creating the anxiety.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is sometimes used in conjunction with other treatment modalities depending on the diagnosis and clinical recommendations. While understanding the underlying reasons for the anxiety may be important, that at times is secondary and less important than the behavioral change.
Too much anxiety can prevent wanted behaviors. Some anxiety is normal and by retraining autonomic responses through cognitive behavioral therapy, much progress can be made. Sometimes, this can open the awareness to the sources or triggers of the anxiety that can be further helpful. However, in the meantime you can begin building confidence and positive reinforcement through accomplishment of the small steps that lead to incrementally greater change and success towards your goals. Jim Harris, LCSW