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.
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.
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.
The NICE guidelines recommend that therapy will usually last for 12-15 weekly sessions.
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.
A chartered counselling or clinical psychologist will be able to provide CBT for GAD, or an experienced therapist with training in GAD.