Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques for Anxiety

Updated on February 19th, 2020
cognitive therapy for anxiety

Most often, the leading cause of anxiety is the nature of the interaction between the victim’s psychology and the surroundings. Hence, if one plans to treat anxiety at the root, he/she will have to deal with inner emotions and thoughts, the resulting behavior and its correlation with the societal belief.

Based on these aspects, the discovery of Cognitive Therapy for anxiety treatment was made. Now since cognition deals mostly with the present experiences, Cognitive Therapy (unlike traditional psychological therapies) deals mostly with the present rather than pondering over the past.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an instrument of psychological sciences that use psycho-social intervention to stabilize one’s mental health. Most mental disorders start with abnormal emotional setbacks.

This eventually thwarts one’s idea of reality and distorts his/her thoughts, beliefs, and attitude. In cognitive Therapy for anxiety, the focus is to develop personal coping strategies, which can clear up such distortions.

Did You Know?

  • CBT is not a one end treatment process. For successful Therapy, CBT requires the patient to practice certain homework prescribed by the therapist.
  • Cognitive Therapy is also helpful in combating certain chronic physical ailments. Many physical ailments take a heavy toll on the mental health of the patient. CBT establishing the patient’s mental stability equips him/her to combat the physical ailment efficiently.
  • CBT requires a short period of therapy time (few weeks to few months) as compared to other mental therapies, yet stays with the patient for a lifetime.

Techniques Used in Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It has been found that an individual with anxiety is essentially suffering from negative thoughts with respect to multiple components. Negative thoughts about the world, about the future, and him/her are some of them. These negative thoughts eventually lead him/her to develop destabilizing emotions (such as low self-esteem and uselessness) and consequently, counter-productive behavior.

CBT techniques(1) for anxiety are a self-correctional instrument of mental health. It helps the individual to analyze and interpret every situation, and recognize negative thoughts. Once the negative thoughts are recognized, the therapists recommend certain behavioral techniques and conscious efforts.

In aggregate, the CBT technique teaches an individual to draw rational beliefs from negative events, and develop healthy negative emotions. Practicing these processes over a period of time, cognitive Therapy becomes a lifelong part of the individual’s skill set.

[Also Read: Natural Remedies to Get Rod of Anxiety]

1. Figuring the Cognitive Distortion

Factors like blaming others, the misconception of fairness, emotional reasoning, following the global trend, unacceptance of mistakes, and such lead to cognitive distortions. Figuring out the factor/factors underlying one’s anxiety is the first step of Therapy.

2. Scheduled Activities

Scheduling activities such as meditation, working on a project, or going for a walk, can help to gain perspective on life.

3. Practicing Mindfulness

mindfulness for anxiety

It is the concept of being self-aware preached in Buddhism. It helps us not to ponder over negative thoughts.

[Also Read: Mindfulness for Anxiety]

4. Skillset Enhancement

Enhancing skills related to the professional area of an individual can help him/her increase the level of self-esteem.

5. Efficient Approximation

The misjudgment of our ability often leads us to failure of deadlines. And such failures lead to anxiety. Efficient approximation of our abilities makes our behavior more rehearsed and tasks more manageable.

6. Journaling


This technique requires an individual to gather his/her thoughts and moods into a journal. This can later become a source to draw various other interpretations and conclusions.

Advantages of Cognitive Therapy

The strengths of using cognitive Therapy for anxiety are too great. Firstly, it has no side effect, and secondly, it becomes a lifelong habit of the individual. CBT recognizes the maladaptive coping mechanisms of our cognition and replaces them with adaptive ones. Replacing the root cause, CBT thoroughly makes the individual immune against disorders such as depression(2) and anxiety.

Effects Across Ages

Cognitive Therapy for anxiety is, to some extent, relative to different age groups. Techniques of Cognitive Therapy, in general, is very effective across all ages, the reception, however, varies according to different ages. Adults and older adults prefer cognitive Therapy over medication, as it suits better. Although, the adults and older adults are less motivated to open up and accept change of thoughts emotionally.

For children, teens, and young adult, on the other hand, sees the exact opposite scenario. For them, their physiology is able enough to tolerate medication, unlike older adults. But, when it comes to cognition therapy, they are more open to sharing emotions and more malleable to change of thoughts.

If you are suffering from anxiety, and plan to receive cognitive Therapy -you will need to be patient and committed. It is not a matter of quick fix or immediate change. The CBT process will aim to cure the negative structures of your thought process at the root and replace it with healthy approaches.


1. Does Cognitive Therapy work for anxiety?

Since the distortion of cognition essentially causes anxiety, cognition therapy can be a pivotal instrument in the matter. Doctors and therapists structured the processes of CBT, specifically to help individuals with anxiety and depression.

2. Why does CBT work for anxiety?

Cognitive distortions like blaming others, the misconception of fairness, emotional reasoning, following the global trend, unacceptance of mistakes and such, lead to anxiety. CBT techniques for anxiety help you identify such distortions. Draw productive emotions out of adverse events and exhibit correctional behavior.

3. How long does it take for CBT to work for anxiety?

CBT techniques for anxiety are generally short-term as compared to other mental therapies. It generally takes from a few weeks to months.

4. What are the cognitive symptoms of anxiety?

The initial cognitive symptoms of anxiety are low self-esteem and a sense of uselessness.

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