In Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy for Clients With Anxiety and Panic, Bunmi O. Olatunji demonstrates this effective and versatile approach to helping clients meaningfully change detrimental patterns in their thoughts and actions.
Cognitive–behavioral therapy views anxiety as the result of maladaptive habits of thinking and behavior, usually including the tendency to overestimate the possibility of something negative occurring and to avoid that which produces anxiety. Studies have found that avoidance temporarily eases fear, but tends also to reinforce it so that it continues over time. To counter this, the therapist often will teach new ways of thinking and gradually expose the client to that which causes anxiety.
In this session, Olatunji works with a young woman who is suffering from panic attacks. First he provides some psychoeducation about the purpose of fear and anxiety, and then helps her to see the irrational aspects of the rationalizations she makes for feeling the way she does.
Cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) is a set of treatment techniques that view the client as an active participant in his or her own treatment. It is seen as beneficial if the patient understands exactly what is involved in treatment, and the ideas behind why these particular treatment techniques are used.
The techniques used in CBT have been tested in numerous studies with people who suffer from anxiety disorders. The results of these studies show that CBT is very effective in reducing anxiety-related problems. In fact, CBT is generally considered the gold-standard treatment for the anxiety disorders.
CBT is based on the notion that anxiety problems involve maladaptive patterns of thinking and behavior. Thinking patterns in anxiety usually include the tendency to overestimate the probability and severity of negative outcomes. This type of thinking leads to feelings of anxiety.
Behavioral patterns in anxiety disorders largely include avoidance and other anxiety-reduction strategies ("safety behaviors"). These behaviors serve as an escape from anxious situations, yet they also prevent the person from learning that these situations are not nearly as dangerous as they had thought. Therefore, the person gets stuck performing the maladaptive behaviors which maintain their fears.
In CBT, the patient is taught to systematically expose oneself to the situations they are avoiding. This provides an opportunity for the person to learn new ways of thinking and behaving in situations which create anxiety so that he or she can accept that such situations are not dangerous.
About the Therapist:
Bunmi O. Olatunji, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
He is associate editor of Journal of Experimental Psychopathology and currently serves on the editorial boards of the journals Behavior Therapy, International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, and Journal of Anxiety Disorders. He has published more than 100 journal articles and book chapters and has participated in more than 100 conference presentations. He is coeditor (with Dean McKay) of Disgust and Its Disorders: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment Implications, a volume on the role of disgust in psychological disorders recently published by APA. He is also guest editor of a special issue on cognitive–behavioral therapy that was recently published in Psychiatric Clinics of North America.
As director of the Emotion and Anxiety Research Laboratory at Vanderbilt University, he is currently examining the role of basic emotions as they relate to the assessment, etiology, and maintenance of anxiety-related disorders. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. His research on the role of disgust in anxiety disorders has also been recognized by APA.
He is a member of the Health Anxiety Workgroup and is director and founder of the Vanderbilt Adult Anxiety Clinic, a treatment and research facility in Nashville, Tennessee.
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