Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, has helped many people since its introduction to the public. The cognitive part means changing thinking patterns that have been supporting the person’s fears and the behavioural part helps people to react differently to anxiety-provoking or problematic situations. CBT helps people to confront the problem situation and to desensitise themselves so that they are no longer anxious.
For example, CBT can help those with a social phobia understand that they can get past their belief that others are judging or watching them. Those with a fear of germs or dirt are encouraged to get their hands dirty and wait a little while before washing them. The waiting period is gradually increased. Once they have done this a few times, the anxiety reduces. It can also help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by asking the client to recall their traumatic memory in a safe environment, reducing the fear it brings. CBT therapists also teach relaxation methods and relieve anxiety. Often, it can take some time for a person to feel relaxed enough to encounter the situation or object and they may have to begin firstly through only tapes or pictures. To be effective, CBT must be tailored to the individual’s needs. It is drug free, there are no side effects and therapy often lasts about 12 weeks.