Monday, March 24, 2014

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Anxiety

Note: if you prefer to listen to this article, a audio/video link is at the bottom of this page.

One possible treatment option for anxiety among people with autism is Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT. CBT was initially developed to treat depression in the general population, but is now being used to address additional needs. CBT focuses on changing negative and anxiety-producing thoughts and beliefs. CBT clients are taught to examine their emotions and thoughts, and recognize when negative emotions and thoughts are becoming more intense. They are also taught strategies to change their thinking, the premise being that this change in thought patterns can change the person's their behavior. CBT can be accompanied by other interventions including positive reinforcement and social stories.

While there are various components of CBT, many programs include the following. Initially, the client may be assured that they are not to blame for their anxiety. Once this is established, the therapist and client come to a consensus about how the anxiety is causing problems for the client (such as social anxiety preventing a person from attending events of interest). This can provide a rationale and motivation for the CBT program.

The client and therapist work together to create a list of situations that produce anxiety for the client. This list is ordered from most to least anxiety-producing. The client is taught coping methods (such as relaxation techniques and logical, more positive thinking patterns about the anxiety-producing situations). At the same time, the client is gradually exposed to the anxiety producing situations, staring with the least anxiety-producing.

CBT may be somewhat more challenging for a person with autism due to difficulty identifying feelings and thought patterns. This may be challenging for the general population as well, but it may be more so for a person with autism. Some methods for making CBT more autism-friendly might include using visual aides, explaining complex social issues using social stories, allowing the person with autism to type their responses to therapist questions (or using online chat to ask questions), and incorporating the client's special interests into therapy sessions. More explanation and application of CBT for individuals with autism can be found in these resources from Tony Attwood:

According to the Autism Evidence-Based Practice Review Group at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CBT meets the criteria as an evidence-based intervention. According to the research they evaluated, CBT has been effective for both elementary school and high school-age children with autism. They also report that CBT can be used to address communication, behavior, social, cognitive, adaptive, and mental health outcomes.

If you are interested in finding a cognitive behavior therapist, here are some tips:


"Treatment of Anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorders Using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: A Systematic Review" by Russell Lang, April Regester, Stacy Lauderdale, Kristen Ashbaugh, and Anna Haring. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, February 2010, Volume 13, Issue 1.

"Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder" by Connie Wong, Samuel L. Odom, Kara Hume, Ann W. Cox, Angel Fettig, Suzanne Kucharczyk, Matthew E. Brock, Joshua B. Plavnick, Veronica P. Fleury, and Tia R. Schultz

Audio recording of this article:


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  3. The great news would be that the case of social anxiety disorder can be dealt along with. There are now contemporary and better treatments becoming developed to handle this particular difficulty. One of probably the most commonly used strategies to look after people with situational anxiousness is Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment. This method is recommended for a person who's unable to give the speech, make phone calls or speak to product sales individuals. The purpose associated with CBT is to aid people amend the method they reason, behave as well as handle their anxiety. This guides the victims' ideas in a constructive method and assists her to prevent avoiding situations that usually trigger anxiety in yesteryear.

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