Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a specialist therapy used to treat anxiety disorders. This is my story.
Every other blogger seems to have anxiety these days so I’m not going to sit here and talk about my experiences with it. My opinions on anxiety blogging can wait for another day but, in short, I think the number of bloggers claiming to have anxiety following Zoella’s confessions makes it difficult to be taken seriously when you start talking about your own experiences with it.
Instead, what I’m talking about today is CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. CBT is a form of counselling shown to be particularly helpful with anxiety disorders, though many people have never even heard of it.
CBT differs from regular counselling, in which you pretty much just talk for the hour, in that it tackles problems logically, breaking down real life situations you have been in and uses visual aids to show what your anxiety looks like on paper. These visual aids can vary from a sheet you could be given explaining various destructive behaviours you may recognise, or your counselor (or therapist if you prefer) may draw on a sheet of paper a timeline of significant events or other things personal to you.
For me, this logical approach helped a lot. Though it isn’t a miracle cure that will get you feeling happy and confident in one session, it does help you see the irrationality in your reactions which you can then try and consider the next time you face a situation that triggers your panic attacks or social anxiety. It’s no secret that I’m a very shy girl with very little confidence in social situations. This is something that is fine in itself but I am also often left feeling withdrawn, self-conscious and subsequently panicked on events as simple as a night out. When me and my counselor wrote down what I was worried about in these situations, what physical symptoms I have and how I react I was able to see that I often end up in a bit of a viscous cycle and that in actual fact all of my worries were nonsensical.
Like I said, this isn’t a miracle cure but it did seem to help me quickly. I managed to force myself to go on a sports social the night after my first session and, though I was still terrified, it turned out to be not that bad. I have since bailed on other situations and had relapses to pre-counselling days (the most recent one being very bad) but I have noticed myself being able to consider things a little more critically and help myself get through.
One thing I do have to stress, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy waiting lists are often very, very long on the NHS and it’s not easy to be seen straight away. If you genuinely do feel like you have an anxiety disorder then by all means visit a GP but please, and I say this as someone who had to wait for months, do not just ask to be referred because you want to be like Zoe Sugg. Social anxiety is not a fashion accessory, it’s a disorder.