Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the primary evidenced-based treatment approaches for anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s a mode of treatment that involves two core components, Cognitive Therapy and Behavioral Therapy.
The Cognitive component of CBT therapy has many aspects, but two of these are key. The first involves learning to identify distorted or “faulty” thoughts that lead you to performing compulsive behaviors or that allow you to jump to conclusions that are not helpful. Once you are able to recognize these thoughts, you can then work to correct them with a more rational and reasonable response.
The Behavioral component involves changing your response to the original thought or obsession. This is generally described as a behavior, but it may also include mental processes that are not observable. Changing the behavior response involves first exposing you to a trigger that evokes anxiety about feared consequences. This process is called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). To effectively perform ERP, we compose a list of the compulsive behaviors that you frequently perform in order to avoid, reduce or control your anxiety. We will then rank them from easiest to hardest to stop performing. When we have an initial list, we start work on being able to refrain from performing each of the compulsive behaviors on the list, adjusting the list as treatment progresses. You are in charge of the process the entire time. You get to control what exposures you do and you do them at your pace. I also will never ask you to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCBT)
Third Wave Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCBT) applies the additional component of Mindfulness to traditional CBT. Mindfulness is based on eastern philosophies that teach us to be more present and accepting of whatever arises both internally and externally in our current situation.
There are many tools to help you learn to be present with anxiety and these may include stress reduction, body scans, as well as mindfulness meditation.
See the Mindfulness section for more information.