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:

1. COGNITIVE

(thinking/belief processes)

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.

2. BEHAVIORAL

(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.

3. EMOTIONAL

(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.

Our History and Our Mission

The Anxiety Network began in 1995 due to growing demand from people around the world wanting help in understanding and overcoming their anxiety disorder.  The Anxiety and Stress Clinic and its website, The Anxiety Network, received so much traffic and requests for help that we found ourselves spending the majority of our time in international communication and outreach.  Our in-person anxiety clinic has grown tremendously, and our principal internet tool, The Anxiety Network, has been re-written and re-designed with focus on the major anxiety disorders.  

The Anxiety Network  focuses on three of the major anxiety disorders:  panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder,  and social anxiety disorder.

In 1997, The Social Anxiety Association, a non-profit organization, was formed and has its own website.

The Social Anxiety Institute, the largest site on the internet for information and treatment of social anxiety, has maintained an active website since 1998.  Continuous, ongoing therapy groups have helped hundreds of people overcome social anxiety since 1994.  Major changes in design will be occurring in 2014.

Follow Dr. Richards