Control Your Life - and your anxiety - by Doing Cognitive Therapy

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 12:06 -- tr

Start using cognitive therapy today and you will feel more in control of your life.  That is the conclusion found in a series of research studies published in October 2013 in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research.

The feeling of having control over life is essential to overcoming social anxiety, researchers report.

Cognitive therapy for social anxiety disorder is an active, learning therapy that makes people feel more in control of their lives, as they begin and continue learning specific anti-anxiety strategies.

In cognitive therapy for social anxiety at the Social Anxiety Institute, we start out with methods to lessen and control anxiety that calm us down when we face regular, daily situations.  “Slow Talk” is the first cognitive therapy solution presented, and we start using this strategy in the first group therapy meeting.

Using slow talk cuts down on the excessive flow of adrenaline and cortisol in the body, and this causes a reduced amount of anxiety when using it.  When people use slow talk, they feel more in control of their lives, and this affects how they feel about themselves (i.e., confidence and self-esteem).

Soon, we learn how to catch our automatic negative thoughts and we learn how to label them for what they are.  We have several strategies that help us catch and stop this automatic negative thinking.  “Catch, Stop and Label ANTs” is the first strategy employed.  People begin to catch and stop their automatic negative thinking the first week they use this strategy.  The process of overcoming social anxiety takes time (e.g., it takes time for the brain to change), but people using this strategy have success with it in the first month.

Then, we follow this up immediately with an explanation of why ANTs thinking and beliefs is damaging to us – and prevents us from overcoming social anxiety.  We do this through conceptual strategies called “The ANTs Handout” and “The ANTs Convention."  These strategies “burn” the message into our brains that continuing to have automatic negative thinking means that you are living with anxiety, emotional pain, and depression, and you do not have to live like this.

The moment you start using cognitive therapy and applying its strategies, anxiety is reduced, and you feel more in control of the situation and your life.  Even one strategy is helpful, but for the change that everyone wants, it takes dozens of simple cognitive strategies – that are applied and practiced - to overcome social anxiety.

Cognitive therapy is rational and common sense, and is not difficult to learn.  The reason why we use the specific strategies we use is clear from the beginning (i.e., the rationale).

Simply beginning cognitive therapy is a big step in the right direction.  Using the strategies involved in overcoming  social anxiety makes you feel better right from the start.  Using the strategies, of course, is essential; just learning the strategies is not enough.  It is in the application of these strategies in your daily life that control is felt.

Cognitive therapy is an active experience and one that allows you to use anti-anxiety methods in your daily life.  By using these strategies, not only do you feel more in control of life, you feel better about yourself, and the direction it is going.  You can see you are actually doing something that will make you less anxious and will take away the control anxiety has over you.

For a longer explanation of what cognitive-behavioral therapy should be used for social anxiety disorder, see Comprehensive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder.

History of the audio series Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step

Successful Social Anxiety Groups

For more on the history of cognitive-behavioral therapy and why it works for social anxiety disorder, go here.

This article is based on Gallegher, M.W., Naragon-Gainey, K., and Brown, T.A.  Perceived Control is a Transdiagnostic Predictor of Cognitive–Behavior Therapy Outcome for Anxiety Disorders, Cognitive Therapy and Research, October 2013.