Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used psychotherapy technique for generalised anxiety disorder. It has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety in many different clinical trials.⁸ This therapy uses reasoning exercises or real experiences to help reduce the level of distress associated with the anxiety and to improve functioning. It is typically delivered over 10-15 hour long sessions, usually delivered weekly or fortnightly. The components of CBT involve education on anxiety and the associated misconceptions, relaxation training, cognitive restructuring and exposure to anxiety evoking situations. Patients are also encouraged to observe their own symptoms, noting down each ‘worry episode’ with the associated cues, symptoms, thoughts and behaviours. This would help them chart their own progress during the therapy. Whilst there are other types of psychotherapy used for generalised anxiety disorder, they are often used only when CBT has been proven to be ineffective.
⁸Carl, E., Witcraft, S.M., Kauffman, B.Y., Gillespie, E.M., Becker, E.S., Cuijpers, P., Van Ameringen, M., Smits, J.A. and Powers, M.B., 2020. Psychological and pharmacological treatments for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Cognitive behaviour therapy, 49(1), pp.1-21.
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