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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a treatment for Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

by Sarah Graham
Tuesday 24 March 2015
3488 26747

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterised by excessive anxiety and worry in everyday life, which is difficult to control and disproportionate to whatever your concerns are. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a commonly practised therapy, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends it as one of the most effective ways of treating GAD. We asked RSCPP-listed Registered Psychologist Wilhelmina Van Vuuren to explain what CBT is, and how it could be used to help treat your anxiety.

What is CBT and how does it work?

CBT is a form of psychological therapy, where much focus is on your thoughts, or your 'cognitive processes', and your behaviours. The aim of CBT is to alter your emotional states by making changes to how you process events and information and how you behave, through the help of a solid therapeutic relationship.

Registered Psychologist Wilhelmina Van Vuuren


How can CBT be applied to treating GAD?

A therapist will develop a shared understanding with you about how GAD is affecting you, and help you develop strategies based on this understanding, to manage your worries and symptoms. People often have positive or negative underlying beliefs about worry, e.g. 'worry prepares me', or 'worry is uncontrollable or dangerous', which can in turn perpetuate the worry.

Registered Psychologist Wilhelmina Van Vuuren


How long does CBT for GAD typically last?

The NICE guidelines recommend that therapy will usually last for 12-15 weekly sessions.

Registered Psychologist Wilhelmina Van Vuuren


What outcome can you expect from CBT as a treatment for GAD?

You can expect to manage your anxiety better and hopefully to have achieved the personal goals that you will have discussed with your therapist at the start.

Registered Psychologist Wilhelmina Van Vuuren


How can I tell if a therapist is qualified to offer CBT for GAD?

A chartered counselling or clinical psychologist will be able to provide CBT for GAD, or an experienced therapist with training in GAD.

Registered Psychologist Wilhelmina Van Vuuren

Finding support

You can find out more about symptoms and causes of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), including how to find a therapist. If this route is not appropriate for you, your GP can assess you and direct you towards support.

Find a Therapist working with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

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Updated 24 March 2015