What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
At The Center for OCD and Anxiety, we utilize a specific treatment called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is an approach to anxiety therapy that involves examining and changing unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors, and practicing new, more helpful ways of thinking and living. In making these changes, one’s painful and distressing feelings are reduced. CBT is the recommended therapy for anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety. It is also an effective treatment for the depression that often accompanies anxiety.
Thoughts Affect Emotions
One of the guiding principles of CBT is that the way we think about things has a direct impact on the way we feel. If you hear a scratching at your window at night and think to yourself it must be a tree branch blowing in the wind, you probably won’t have too much difficulty falling asleep. On the other hand, if you think it’s the sound of a burglar trying to get into your house, good luck calming your heart rate. In this way, thoughts are sort of like the middle man between events and our emotional responses. For anxiety therapy to be effective, then, it must target your current thinking.
Changing Your Mind with CBT
The Cognitive Behavioral approach to anxiety therapy assumes that mental health disorders are fueled by distorted and unhelpful beliefs that are stuck in one’s thinking. Examples of some unhelpful beliefs that might perpetuate different anxiety disorders are:
- Social Anxiety: “People think I’m an unacceptable person.”
- Panic Disorder: “Whenever my heart rate increases, that means I’m going to have a panic attack.”
- OCD: “If I don’t complete my rituals perfectly in the morning, I’m going to have a bad day.”
While it can feel hopeless when you are in the grip of beliefs like these, the good news is that beliefs can change. Your brain only likes to keep beliefs around as long as it deems them useful. If you repeatedly encounter new information or have numerous new experiences that contradict your unhelpful beliefs, those beliefs will eventually lose their strength and be replaced by new, more accurate beliefs. When engaging in therapy for anxiety, we facilitate this process by increasing your awareness of what your distorted beliefs are, and then engaging in a variety of CBT strategies to test them out. This can involve anything from having a conversation about distorted thoughts and beliefs in the therapy office to engaging in some behavioral experiments outside of the therapy office.
Therapy for Anxiety
If you are looking for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety or OCD in the Pittsburgh area, you can contact us at The Center for OCD and Anxiety to make an intake appointment.