Psychotherapy forms the basic treatment modality in managing patients with anxiety disorders. It is a long process that is offered by specialist psychotherapists that helps alter behaviour of patients the certain situations that can trigger anxiety attacks.
In this article, we shall discuss psychotherapy in brief, concentrating particularly on cognitive behavioural therapy as a treatment modality.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of therapy that concentrates on altering patient behaviour to certain triggers and situations that may bring on an anxiety attack. Anxiety attacks are often precipitated by bad news, reliving a traumatic situation, being in an awkward social situation (that are considered normal by other people) etc.
How cognitive behavioural therapy helps
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a long process that can involve sessions that last many hours over a period of months. During therapy, the different situations and behaviours that lead to anxiety attacks are identified by the patient and revisited at every session. Discussions are held with the psychologist as to how best to manage the situation in a calm and composed manner rather than in an anxious way. In essence, the initial stages of cognitive behavioural therapy involve identifying irrational and unrealistic beliefs and the various patterns of behaviour that trigger anxiety. The aim of this identification stage is to replace each of these beliefs and behaviours with actions that can help alleviate anxiety effectively.
Cognitive behavioural therapy does not focus on past events in most cases; instead, it focuses on current behaviour and current triggers. The aim is to teach the patient new skills and alter their behaviour so that the way that they handle risky situations (ones that can trigger an anxiety attack) is different to how they used to handle it before.
Cognitive behavioural therapy involves self-monitoring of treatment in an active fashion. What this means is that patients are encouraged to make a note of the anxiety levels during the course of treatment and make a note of how it has changed over time. In addition to this, other activities and patterns such as avoidance behaviour, worrying a lot and the visualisation of a potential catastrophe should be made a note of. These behavioural patterns can then be replaced by more creative ones in conjunction with the psychologist that can be productive to the patient rather than result in an anxiety attack.
Another part of cognitive behavioural therapy includes coping strategies. This involves relaxation methods, slow breathing, meditation and other self-control techniques.
From the available evidence and different scientific studies that are assessed cognitive behavioural therapy in managing anxiety disorders, it appeared that this form of treatment is the best available for the patient. It is superior to other treatments and its effects last a lot longer as well. Patient compliance is excellent and the need for medical treatment is often reduced remarkably.