CBT, or Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, is a psychological treatment that was developed through scientific research. That is, all of the components of CBT have been tested by researchers to determine whether they are effective and that they do what they are intended to do.
Research has shown that CBT is one of the most effective treatments for the management of anxiety. The good news is that although it is best done with a trained CBT therapist, you can apply CBT principles at home to manage your own anxiety and conquer your fears.
CBT involves learning new skills to manage your symptoms. It teaches you new ways of thinking and behaving that can help you get control over your anxiety in the long-run. There are a few principles that are important to understand when using CBT.
CBT focuses on the here and now. An important principle of CBT is that treatment involves dealing with the symptoms that you are struggling with right now, rather than focusing on the cause of your problem. Although it can be interesting to understand how your anxiety developed, just knowing why you have anxiety problems is often not enough to help you manage your anxiety.
CBT emphasizes the importance of homework. Whether you are receiving CBT from a trained therapist or you are using self-help CBT techniques at home, homework is a key component. Doing homework for CBT basically means that from week to week, you will need to practise the new skills that you are learning and apply them to your daily life. And like the homework that you were given in school, you need to practise those skills every day.
Why is homework so important? Unless you practice the new strategies that you learn to manage anxiety, you will not use them very well, and you will probably forget to use them when you need them most: when you are feeling very anxious. Learning new ways to manage anxiety is a little like developing a new healthy habit. If for example, you wanted to start exercising regularly, you would want to fit in a new exercise routine into your schedule. It would be difficult at first, but if you kept at it, that new routine would become a habit, and eventually a part of your regular activities. The same is true with CBT skills: if you practise them every day, they will become a part of your daily routine. The good news is that the more you use your CBT skills, the easier it gets, and the better you will become at managing your anxiety.