The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as Treatment for Anxiety

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Anxiety is a type of emotional response characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil coupled by nervous behavior and dread. Physical symptoms of anxiety include tense muscles, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, restlessness and loss of focus. Although similar with fear, anxiety is not an emotional response to a real or perceived threat.

Addressing anxiety requires taking prescription medication along with therapy. One of the most popular treatments for anxiety is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT. This treatment is focused on identifying the source of anxiety, understanding the triggers as well as changing a patient’s way of thinking and behavioral patterns to reduce anxiety. Studies show that the benefits of CBT can be seen in as little as 12 weeks.

Types of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT comes in different forms, which we will go through quickly: Exposure therapy helps reduce fear and anxiety response while Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT requires implementation of mindfulness and acceptance to regulate anxiety.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT aims to integrate cognitive-behavioral techniques with meditation and Eastern concepts to relieve tension and tolerate distress. Interpersonal Therapy or IPT is a short-term supportive psychotherapy to address interpersonal issues of the patient. This treatment is meant to ease depression and regulate emotions.

Advantages of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy


Generally, anxious patients crave control so they don’t unravel emotionally. CBT provides a semblance of control among patients and this helps anxious people regulate distress much more effectively. By understanding themselves in a rational manner, they will get ahold of their emotions better. This is the reason why most CBT therapists encourage patients to hone their rational self-counseling skills.

Progressive Results

Studies show that anxious patients experience positive results after 12 CBT sessions; other patients take a couple of weeks longer to experience the same results. The length of time it takes to experience the benefits of CBT will depend on the mental state of the patient. In severe cases of anxiety, patients require more than 16 sessions or more but the results are gradual and long-lasting.

Addresses Problematic Assumptions

One of the triggers of anxiety is problematic underlying assumptions. CBT is comprised of various treatments that correct these underlying assumptions to achieve long-term results. The results won’t be instantaneous, but the treatment addresses the root cause of the problem without using drugs.


CBT does not require impositions of goals over the client. The treatment is cross-cultural. It operates based on the universal flaws of the human behavior. When the goals are clearly defined using therapeutic techniques, anxiety is reduced significantly.

It’s a Proven Safe and Effective Treatment for Anxiety

The scientific studies and experiment related to the effectiveness of CBT in treating anxiety is well-documented. Some studies also show that CBT provides better long-term benefits than anti-anxiety medications.

Reinforces Strength to Cope

CBT is structured to correct a patient’s thought and behavioral pattern and this is key to the therapy’s long-term benefits. CBT empowers the patient to alleviate feelings of helplessness and distress. This is the reason why CBT is often used to treat addictive behavior. CBT helps patient become more confident in handling stressful situations so they do not engage in destructive behaviors to cope.

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