What is CBT
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is the primary treatment modality used to treat anxiety disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Along with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and medication, it is known as the “Gold Standard” of treatment.
Broadly speaking, CBT is concerned with how thoughts (cognitions) influence behaviors. As we know from our own experiences, anxious thoughts tend to be distorted and irrational, which often leads to distorted and irrational behaviors.
Cognition, or Obsession
The cognitive component of CBT aims to help clients re-evaluate their thoughts to include a more balanced, reasonable perspective. This reasonable perspective is based on their true experiences, what they rationally know about themselves and others, and generally understood facts about people and life.
Traditional therapists practicing Cognitive Therapy often fall short by stopping here. If simply pointing out a few facts about a situation were enough to eliminate the disorder, OCD and anxiety sufferers would have done it already. The cognitive piece of CBT is only meant to provide a firm ground from which to leap into the behavioral component of treatment. Consider the CBT process like this: If you can re-think the way you think about and evaluate your thoughts, you can respond differently to them.
Behaviors, or Compulsive Responses
The behavioral piece of CBT is where the majority of progress is made. Once the client re-evaluates how they have been thinking, then they can put their new-found reasoning to the test through action-based Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) exercises. ERP is a behavioral technique used to progressively face the client’s fears and build a tolerance to the discomfort currently associated with the feared images, situations, and thoughts.
Over time and after repeated exposure exercises, we expect the level of anxiety experienced in the face of the fear to reduce. This is called habituation.
CBT for OCD and Anxiety
CBT for OCD and anxiety disorders requires unique training and a specialized skill-set to effectively combat these disorders. Most therapists claiming to treat OCD and anxiety with CBT do not have the experience or expertise to address the subtle nuances of these disorders. Often, these well-intentioned therapists focus their work on providing reassurances and other antithetical approaches. Consequently, the client may leave session feeling temporarily better because of the reassurance, but ultimately without having done the work that could result in lasting progress.
If you are interested in learning more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or anxiety spectrum disorders, please contact me, I am happy to discuss how I can help you in your treatment goals.
The California OCD and Anxiety Treatment Center offers specialized therapy using Cognitive Behavioral therapy for OCD and anxiety related disorders in its Fullerton offices. In addition to serving North Orange County, Los Angeles, and the Inland Empire, CalOCD offers online therapy, group therapy, and Intensive Out-Patient treatment.