Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and behavior therapy emphasize the connections between thoughts, physical sensations, and behaviors in the maintenance of anxiety-related problems. These forms of therapy are present-focused and involve helping clients understand the nature of their symptoms and what is maintaining them, as well as teaching them tools for how to break out of unhelpful symptom patterns.
Cognitive strategies involve teaching individuals how to examine and challenge unhelpful thought patterns (i.e., thoughts that lead to feelings of anxiety, worry, or panic) and learn how to think about situations and stressful events in more helpful ways. Behavioral strategies involve helping clients change unhelpful behavior patterns that can maintain problems over time (i.e., avoidance behaviors, compulsions/rituals, repetitive behaviors, unhelpful coping strategies). Relaxation strategies are also part of many treatments for anxiety and can be very effective for helping people manage physical symptoms of anxiety (i.e., rapid heart rate or breathing, chronic muscle tension).
A primary goal of CBT is teaching clients how to become their own therapists so they can successfully manage symptoms independently over time. As a result, this approach is very active and typically involves clients practicing skills learned in treatment between therapy sessions to maximize generalization of these skills to daily life.
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