What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a theoretical orientation that focuses on & examines the relationship between your thoughts, your feelings and your behaviors. The reason CBT is the standard treatment approach at The Maryland Anxiety Center is because studies have shown that CBT is the most effective treatment for anxiety & related disorders.

In CBT, you will learn new ways of appraising situations in a more rational manner as opposed to catastrophizing and/or overestimating threat. While in the midst of an intense emotional experience (e.g. when feeling anxious, afraid, worried, angry, or sad), it is common for people to overestimate the likelihood that their worst fear will come true and/or if it did come true, that it would be catastrophic, and they wouldn’t be able to cope.

When a person feels anxiety, fear, sadness, or any type of emotional distress, they often engage in behaviors to get rid of their emotional discomfort. This only makes sense! As human beings, we tend to avoid things that make us feel bad and repeat behaviors that make us feel good or better. However, when we try to make our strong emotions go away, we usually feel worse, especially over time.

The reason this occurs is because you have only learned that you will feel better by avoiding, escaping and/or by doing something to make your anxiety and/or distress go away immediately. You don’t get the chance to learn that your discomfort would subside on its own and that you are safe. Engaging in behaviors to try to make your feelings go away, only serves to reinforce the idea that you MUST avoid, escape or do something to prevent your feared outcome from coming true.

The goal of CBT is to help you make changes in how you feel by correcting problematic thinking patterns and maladaptive behaviors so that you can live a full and productive life.

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