It is a typical occurrence for anxiety sufferers to experience unrelenting negative thoughts. They worry and obsess over matters of which they have no control. People with anxiety disorders suffer in different ways, some more severe than others.
There are different approaches to treating anxiety. Individuals do not respond to treatment in the same manner. While one treatment may be valid for one patient, another patient may not respond to the treatment at all.
Treatment is best managed on an individual basis. A patient is evaluated by a professional therapist, who will then decide on a suitable treatment plan. Anxiety disorders differ somewhat; each person’s therapy should be tailored to an individual’s specific symptoms.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the leading treatments used in treating cases of anxiety. On-going research continues to prove that CBT is an effective method in treating patients who suffer from anxiety disorders.
What is CBT?
CBT focuses on negative thinking patterns in an individual. It looks at how a person sees the world around them, how they perceive the world, and how they see themselves too. Patients suffering from severe anxiety disorders have a distorted view of the world around them and how they see themselves. CBT has two components.
The one side of CBT looks at a person’s cognitive functioning. This refers to people’s thought patterns (usually negative). The focus is on how those negative thoughts contribute to a person’s anxiety. The other side of CBT looks at the behavioral side. This relates to how a person acts in various situations and how their behavior in certain positions ignites feelings of anxiety.
How CBT Works?
Therapists customize treatment programs according to individual patient’s needs. Also, the duration and level of intensity he/she chooses to apply may differ. According to Dr. Mariyam Ahmed, therapy “involves working in collaboration with clients to develop a plan targeted at their needs”. The basis of CBT rests on teaching individuals that our thoughts impact how we feel.
Often people blame external factors for negative feelings. CBT’s goal is to teach a person to replace their thought processes with more positive thought patterns. By focusing on positive elements, people start to have a more positive mind-set.
CBT helps anxiety sufferers to see that it is not the negative situations that they find themselves in from time to time that cause the damage. Instead, it is how they perceive the condition in which they find themselves. CBT teaches a person to focus on thought patterns rather than the actual situation.
Why People React Differently
Individuals are unique. Furthermore, each person possesses different expectations for their life. Everyone has a certain attitude and belief system. Due to these individual qualities, people handle situations in different ways at various stages of life.
Correcting Negative Thoughts
Therapists work with individuals to identify where negative thoughts originate. They need to determine the root cause of the anxiety and fear in the patient. The process of CBT works to correct the negative thought patterns and beliefs that ignite feelings of anxiousness in a person. A technique called thought challenging is used during CBT. This process of cognitive restructuring involves a three-step process.
Firstly, the negative thoughts are isolated and identified. The next step is to challenge those feelings. A therapist works closely with an individual to guide this process. This process is an in-depth procedure, whereby questions are raised regarding the anxiety-provoking thoughts. At times, actual experiments can be performed to prove that the harmful thoughts are not realistic.
A list of pros and cons is drawn up, to compare the genuine worry and fear a person is facing. By doing this, a patient can see their fears are unfounded and unnecessary. The last stage in the three-step process is to replace the negative thought patterns with more positive approaches to thinking going forward.
CBT helps the individual to realize more realistic, fulfilling, and positive thoughts. By adopting more realistic and positive thinking, an individual’s levels of anxiety decrease, and they are in a better position to manage difficult and trying situations.
A specific time will be set out by a trained professional to perform CBT therapy. The result, in most cases, is that individuals are better equipped to cope in real-life situations that would typically cripple them. CBT gives individuals the tools and skills to cope better. Patients can confront their fears head-on and put feelings of anxiety and fear to rest.
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