We are actually spoiled for choice when it comes to therapies. There are literally hundreds available, although in fairness some of these range from the downright weird and wacky, to the more mainstream offerings.
When it comes to treating anxiety the most commonly recommended treatment choice is something call cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
What’s Good About CBT?
Of all the psychological therapies around CBT is the most clinically evaluated. It is also generally regarded as one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. CBT is inexpensive and the overall treatment package can last for as few as six one-hour sessions. Well, this would be the case for, say, mild anxiety, but more usually in the region of 10-20 sessions.
It has further appeal in the sense that it is perfectly natural. Unlike medication you’re not taking in chemicals and so there are no chemical side effects.
CBT is most commonly offered as a face-to-face treatment between client and therapist but there is increasing evidence to show that its principles can be applied to a variety of other contexts.
Interactive computerized CBT, for example, is on the increase, but the therapy can be offered in groups or even in self-help books. These options are attractive to people who find the idea or the practicalities of regular meetings with a therapist don’t suit them.
CBT is a highly structured approach. It involves the therapist and client collaborating on treatment goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time limited. The client is encouraged to break down the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that trap them in a negative cycle and they learn skills and strategies that can be applied in everyday life to help them cope better.
Would it Work for Me?
There some issues with CBT that make it either unsuitable or uncomfortable for some people.
For example, CBT may not be effective for people with more complex mental health issues or for those with learning difficulties.
The focus is always about the client and their capacity to bring change to themselves. Some people feel this is too narrow a focus and ignores too many important issues like family, personal histories, and wider emotional problems.
There is no scope within CBT for personal exploration and examination of emotions, or of looking at troubling issues from a variety of perspectives. For these issue to be addressed a client would need to turn to a different approach, perhaps along the lines of psychodynamic counseling.
If you find the idea of a therapy that isn’t analytical or probing and that focuses on getting you to cope with situations, then CBT may be for you. If not, there are other talk-therapies you could explore.