Written by Tara Boustany on:

Most of us have been there—feelings of anxiety creeping up on you, the constant worry and fear about everything; not being able to sleep at night, and having a sense of dread during the day.

You might feel like your thoughts are racing out of control, or that your emotions are just too much for you to handle alone—and they may be!

That’s why cognitive behavioral therapy can be a great option for those looking for natural remedies for anxiety.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about how CBT so that you’ll come up with an informed decision about whether or not this natural remedy for anxiety is for you.

So, let’s get started.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people to understand the thoughts and feelings that influence their behaviors.

During CBT, your therapist will work with you to identify the thoughts and beliefs that are causing your anxiety.

Once these thoughts have been identified, your therapist can help you to challenge them and replace them with healthier, more positive thinking patterns.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also help you to change your behavior by teaching relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring exercises that challenge negative thinking patterns, and other ways to manage anxiety.

Key Concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There are a few key concepts that cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on:

  • The cognitive concept of cognitive distortion, which is the idea that our thoughts can be inaccurate and lead to negative emotions and problematic behaviors.
  • The behavioral concept of reinforcement, which is the idea that we learn best by experiencing rewards and punishments for our behaviors.
  • The cognitive concept of core beliefs, which are the fundamental thoughts or beliefs that make up our sense of self and can either help us to thrive or hold us back from reaching our full potential.

How is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Different than Other Popular Therapies?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy may be different than other types of therapy because it is a relatively short-term treatment.

Most people who undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy see significant improvement in their symptoms after about 16 sessions.

This shorter duration may be appealing to some people who are looking for natural remedies for anxiety and don’t want to commit to a long-term therapy process.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be a great option for those who want the guidance of a professional, but don’t find value in talking endlessly about their childhood or other past experiences.

This cognitive-behavioral approach is focused on problem-solving and developing new skills to manage symptoms rather than uncovering repressed memories from your past or digging into your psyche.

Does cognitive-behavioral therapy work?

Yes! Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of anxiety and other mental health conditions, such as depression.

In fact, CBT is recommended as a first-line treatment for generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, and it’s also effective for anxiety related to depression.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is offered in both individual and group settings.

How Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Works

Cognitive-behavioral therapy works by identifying cognitive distortions and negative thinking patterns, replacing these thoughts with more positive alternatives, and changing the behaviors that reinforce them.

Identifying Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive-behavioral therapists will help you identify cognitive distortions or problematic thought processes so that they can be addressed directly in treatment.

Some cognitive distortions common in anxiety and depression include:

All-Or-Nothing Thinking

This cognitive distortion is characterized by viewing events, situations, or people as either all good or all bad.

Overgeneralization

Overgeneralization involves taking a small piece of information and using it to make broad generalizations about yourself, others, or your future.

Mental Filter

This cognitive distortion involves focusing on the negatives and ignoring the positives.

Jumping to Conclusions

Jumping to conclusions is when you make negative assumptions without gathering enough information first.

Mind Reading

Mind reading occurs when you assume that other people are thinking negatively about or judging you, even though there’s no evidence to support those thoughts.

Emotional Reasoning

This cognitive distortion involves believing that your emotions reflect the way things really are, regardless of what other people might say or believe about a situation.

Labeling

Labeling is when you assign global labels to yourself and others without taking into account individual differences among human beings.

The cognitive-behavioral therapist will help you to identify these cognitive distortions and challenge them directly.

Replacing Negative Thoughts with Positive Alternatives

Once you’ve identified the cognitive distortions that are contributing to your anxiety or depression, it’s time to start replacing those thoughts with more positive alternatives.

This involves coming up with a new set of thoughts that are more realistic and positive and rehearsing these thoughts until they become automatic.

It’s important to remember that it may take some time for the new thoughts to start taking hold, so be patient and keep practicing.

Changing Behaviors That Reinforce Negative Thoughts

Finally, cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to change the behaviors that reinforce negative cognitive processes.

This might involve identifying specific actions you take as a result of your anxiety, such as avoidance behaviors or safety behaviors (e.g., constantly checking the stove to make sure it’s off) and replacing those with new healthier coping strategies (e.g., riding out anxious thoughts by taking deep breaths rather than engaging in compulsive behaviors).

What You Can Expect From Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be very effective for anxiety and other mental health conditions, such as depression.

As cognitive-behavioral therapists work with you to identify cognitive distortions and replace these thoughts with more positive alternatives, you’ll likely start to see a decrease in your anxiety symptoms.

You may also find that cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you change the behaviors that have been reinforcing your negative thoughts and emotions.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is offered in both individual and group settings, so you can choose the format that best suits your needs.

Types of CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is most commonly used to treat anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.

However cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be helpful for people who are trying to quit smoking or deal with chronic pain issues.

In addition, CBT has been applied in education settings as a way to help students perform better in school, and cognitive-behavioral therapy has also been applied to work settings as a way to improve productivity.

The cognitive-behavioral therapist will design a treatment plan that’s tailored to your specific condition and goals.

Here are the most popular types of CBT:

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

CPT is a cognitive-behavioral treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that’s typically used in the aftermath of traumatic events, such as sexual assault or accidents.

Cognitive Processing Therapy can help you to process your thoughts and feelings about what happened so they no longer interfere with daily life.

Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat people with a borderline personality disorder.

DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance strategies, and the goal of DBT is to help people learn how to tolerate distress without engaging in self-destructive behaviors.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Rational emotive behavior therapy is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that was developed by Albert Ellis.

REBT is based on the idea that our emotions are largely determined by our thoughts, and it focuses on changing the dysfunctional beliefs that contribute to emotional problems.

REBT is often used to treat depression, anxiety, anger issues, and phobias.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR))

EMDR is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that’s used to treat people who have experienced trauma, such as the death of a loved one or sexual assault.

With EMDR, your therapist will use bilateral stimulation—such as eye movements or tones played in each ear—to help you process your thoughts and feelings about the event.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

The goal of acceptance and commitment therapy is for clients to adopt an attitude that’s similar to “I choose not to choose.”

This means accepting reality as it is without trying to control everything.

ACT also encourages people to take action in the service of their values, even if that means experiencing uncomfortable emotions.

The cognitive-behavioral therapist will design a treatment plan that’s tailored to your specific condition and goals.

Multimodal Therapy

Multimodal therapy is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that was developed by Arnold Lazarus.

Multimodal therapy combines cognitive, behavioral, and psychodynamic techniques, and the goal of multimodal therapy is to help people resolve their conflicts and improve their relationships.

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