What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?
If we are serious about overcoming an anxiety disorder, we need to approach anxiety from every positive angle and perspective that we have available to us. Therefore, we focus on three main areas, all three of which must be addressed in therapy:
Here we learn new methods and ways to change our old thinking patterns and habits. If we’re always thinking and expecting the worst to happen, then we will continue to suffer. We can train or condition our minds to think and respond differently than we have in the past. Or think of it this way – our brain was conditioned to think and feel negatively, but NOW we can be reconditioned to think rationally and healthfully.
We have many dozens of specific methods and strategies that we use to overcome anxiety — and you only need to find several methods that work well for you. We usually start CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) at this stage.
Some effective cognitive-behavioral techniques are:
Slow-talk/slow walk/slowing down/relaxing
Stopping automatic negative thinking (ANTs)
The acceptance paradox: how we keep the fires burning and how to put them out
Rational and helpful self-statements that become permanent and “automatic” thoughts
Continuing to move forward, step by step
Whose voice are you listening to, anyhow? Do we have to listen and believe all the old lies?
The determination factor: becoming more focused and determined. Determination is a powerful process. It does not involve aggression or any other negative emotion. It is a postive emotion that means, “I am serious about overcoming my anxiety. If I work on therapy daily, and give it time and patience, I know I will gradually reduce my anxiety in these situations.
Focusing: What are you paying attention to? Are you paying attention to what is rational? Or, are you still seeing things from an irrational, skewed perspective?
Later, it’s important we address perfectionism, anger, frustration, setbacks, and our view of the world.
(what we DO)
The behavioral aspect of therapy is the part where we actually put everything into place — in everyday, real-life, practical situations where we are bothered by anxiety and depression.
This area is always handled at the same time or directly after cognitive therapy, because we need a strong foundation of cognitive and emotional skills and strategies so that we can begin living and acting differently before we confront real-life challenges. Each and every anxiety symptom has a direct strategy that works, given your determination, time, and patience. There are no roadblocks that cannot be overcome.
This stage is essential for people with anxiety problems (such as social anxiety disorder) and serves as a powerful adjunct to individual treatment for others.
(relaxation/peaceful/strength, and power strategies)
It is important to have some type of relaxation or “de-stress” strategy that is accessible whenever we need it. In this area, calmness and peace are the goals.
The more your brain is quiet and relaxed, the easier therapeutic information can get into it and be processed. This is simply another way to let the therapy reach your brain and gently sink in.
Our focus is on peace and calmness here. We do not focus on decreasing anxiety by using these methods. Why? As peace and calmness become a little stronger, it tends to “crowd out” the anxieties and fears we have. Therefore, we never need to focus on the anxiety, the nervousness, or the fear. Our attention is on healing, healthiness, and inner peace.
All of this is achievable in a good cognitive-behavioral group.