Treating Anxiety with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

There are as many forms of Anxiety as there are people in the world, each one of us are so beautifully unique and in such an array of differing circumstances to suggest there is a manual style ‘one size fits all’ treatment to Anxiety using CBT therapy seems too simplistic. When searching for CBT Counselling Dublin this is one of the major criticisms of the CBT approach you will find.. Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? 

Other criticisms are that CBT therapists look at something as complex as the human mind in the same way we look at fixing a simple computer problem, the “data” or “process” has gone wrong and by correcting the faulty process we can solve the problems, this is why a CBT Anxiety Therapist doesn’t spend time analysing past experiences or giving importance to dreams or unconscious patterns, only focusing on the present “faulty” thinking patterns.

Some would say that CBT is like cutting the top off a patch of weeds, unless you get to their roots (i.e. the past experiences, the unconscious mind) the weeds will just grow back again. Another criticism is that much of the evidence based research on CBT focuses only on short term results, that there is little evidence of long term changes taking place. The same type of criticisms are also aimed at using Hypnotherapy to treat Anxiety, it can work in the short-term but documented reliable long term effects of Hypnotherapy Treatment for Anxiety are scarce.

CBT Dundrum

Typical Cognitive Distortions

During my training as a I considered all the above criticisms to be true, however while studying the subject began to notice my own “cognitive distortions” or “negative beliefs” and found that simply being aware of these could change my ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. It helped with some of the anxieties I experienced (yes even therapists feel anxiety, all humans do!!).

As I began to practise Counselling and Psychotherapy in Dundrum and South Dublin, I began to integrate different theories where they fit. Depending on the person I am sitting with. We sometimes take the more existential approach to Anxiety, that the reason we feel anxiety is related to our existence, to our purpose in life and if we could find that, we would not feel as anxious. Or sometimes we might look at it through a choice theory lens, that we are choosing to ‘Anxietise’ or we are ‘Anxieting’ because this is the best response to a problem we are having and if we thought about the other available choices, we may choose something better.

Or a psychodynamic approach where Anxiety might be seen as a defence against something deeper and by holding a safe professional space to talk, the deeper feelings feel safe enough to come to the surface and not be defended against in such a troublesome manner. Recently I have trained in Trauma Counselling in Dublin regarding the anxiety Trauma can produce and how to work with it. Sometimes we look at lifestyle e.g. people with high anxiety using lots of caffeine is a recipe for disaster. All these theories are good and can be used successfully in Anxiety treatment.

CBT Dundrum

Typical CBT Worksheet

However there were some instances where none of the above would work initially. The Anxiety was too high. In these instances I found CBT was the most successful place to begin. To bring the Anxiety slowly down from a 10 out of 10, to a 9 out of 10, an 8.5 out of 10 and slowly reduce it this way. To get it under control. To become a CBT specialist was beneficial. Then once we got it under control we can decide whether any additional forms of therapy might be needed or what the best direction is taking a person centred approach i.e. you deciding the best direction to take.

The structure of CBT helps, it’s scientific methodology, having homework, exercises and keeping track on our progress using various tools and worksheets helps. There is some work to do outside of the 50 minute session, but if you can commit to doing CBT Homework it can work for you. Like all changes it requires effort to see results. You can become your own Anxiety therapist. Your own Anxiety Specialist.

If you are suffering from this type of Anxiety, I know even the idea of going to try CBT Therapy is probably a cause of Anxiety for you, maybe because there are so many questions and so many unknowns involved? And one of the best ways CBT helps reduce anxiety is by encouraging information gathering and making the unknown – known. You may be anxious about seeking anxiety treatment or anxiety counselling.

Therefore, I would like to invite you to contact me which will indicate to me that you are experiencing anxiety, and at this stage you may only be looking to make contact and ask a few questions, not commit to anything. Just a reaching out. Perhaps we can help reduce the Anxiety involved in coming to psychotherapy by making any of the unknowns about counselling and psychotherapy more known to you. So feel free to ask any and as many questions as you like and I will be happy to respond without any expectation of further commitment, usually I respond to emails on the same day but sometimes it might take a couple of days.

Lastly, One of the main characteristics I have noticed with this type of anxiety is the tendency to overestimate the feared outcome and underestimate the ability to cope. Anxiety occurs when you imagine and fear the worst. Sometimes people choose to keep away from Anxiety Therapy because they fear the worst will come of it, like the possibility that they will find out something terrible or painful and will not be able to cope with that. Or that they will be seen as weak by people who need them to be strong…

So maybe it would be a good start to think about any fears of coming to therapy ? What do you imagine might happen ? And go ahead and ask me a question or let me know what fears you might have. In my opinion, it’s much better to know what you are dealing with rather than imagining the worst.

The more you don’t know, the more you worry. When you worry, you become more anxious. This can be a long drawn out struggle about coming to Anxiety Therapy and dealing with the problem. 

I suggest working to overcome your fears rather than succumbing to them. You might experience an increase in anxiety in the short-term while emailing or coming through the door. 

I can give an outline of how a typical course of CBT therapy might go with me in either my Dundrum Counselling office at the Dundrum Counselling and Therapy Centre, or in my South Dublin Counselling office at the Wexford Street Therapy Centre.