Treating Anxiety & OCD Quickly and Effectively
by Dan Kalb, Ph.D.
Nearly one in five Americans has suffered from anxiety this past year, making it the most prevalent of psychological disorders. Fortunately, it is highly treatable.
Despite what zealots say, not every problem is best addressed with CBT. But there’s a network of cross-confirming research that cites cognitive-behavioral approaches as the treatment of choice for these disorders.
Many tools and techniques that can aid in symptom management are easy to learn, and apply, and can add to the armamentarium of non-CBT therapists. Freeing patients from an excessive burden of anxiety can often be a springboard to growth, at which point other approaches to treatment can be even more beneficial.
The most critical principle in the treatment of all anxiety is that patients must face what they fear. Usually this is done hierarchically, in small incremental steps. At first, patients habituate to less scary thoughts, feelings, sensations, and situations. In their homework, (and sometimes during sessions), they are encouraged to address ever more dreaded triggers. Talking about the origins of a fear, and its impact, is no substitute for heading out into the real world to practice facing it.
Along these lines the gold standard for the treatment of OCD is called exposure and response prevention (ERP). The patient is tasked with facing anxiety-provoking stimuli and then abstaining from engaging in behavioral or mental compulsions.
Cognitive techniques help change the way patients talk to themselves about anxiety. Improving self-talk can make a huge difference in preventing symptoms from increasing. Mindfulness fosters an ability look at anxiety, rather than from it. By stressing acceptance it enables the individual to change his or her fundamental relationship distress. In essence, the patient becomes more comfortable with discomfort.
Therapists will find that applying these tools to themselves will yield manifold benefits. Lives expand or contract in proportion to our courage to confront our fears.
To learn more about quickly and effectively treating anxiety, consider Dan’s upcoming workshop: http://tinyurl.com/ycy5hfd8
For more about Dan Kalb, visit: www.cbtMarin.com
# # #
Please visit http://www.marincountypsych.org for more information about our association and membership benefits or to locate a licensed clinical psychologist in Marin County.
# # #
The opinions expressed by the authors are their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Marin County Psychological Association. The information posted on this blog is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional mental health services.