What You Need to Know About CBT for Anxiety

Photo of person in a green jacket looking at books on a wooden table | CBT for anxiety | Willow Counseling Nashville, TN 37212

Are you tired of your anxiety symptoms impacting your daily life? Do you feel like your symptoms are limiting you from living your life to the fullest?

Anxiety disorders affect millions of people around the world. In fact, anxiety can affect every area of your life. For example, anxiety can impact your work performance, your physical health, and even your relationships with others. When left untreated, anxiety disorders can make your life really hard.

Anxiety treatment can make a big difference in your quality of life. CBT for anxiety can help you choose and practice using working solutions for change.

What Is CBT?

CBT stands for cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT is a popular, evidence-based treatment that is used to treat many different mental illnesses including anxiety disorders. This therapy works under the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected.

CBT is specific, goal-oriented, and problem-focused. In these sessions, you will learn how the way you think impacts how you feel and how you respond. Therefore, by learning how to change and reframe the way you think, you can improve your mood and practice more positive behaviors

CBT For Anxiety

CBT for anxiety is hands-on. Your therapist will give you activities and homework to participate in. Additionally, you will be asked to work with your therapist to provide feedback on how your treatment is affecting your anxiety. You can expect to challenge your thoughts, discuss your coping skills, and learn more about what your feelings actually mean. CBT is proven to change how we respond to our anxious thoughts. In conclusion, we don’t have to be a victim of the way we think or feel.

CBT Challenges Negative Thoughts Called Cognitive Distortions

A person with a coat in a city park on a foggy day to show how symptoms of anxiety can leave you feeling like you are in a fog. CBT for anxiety is available as an effective anxiety treatment at Willow Counseling in Nashville, TN.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) helps you take a close look at the anxious or negative thoughts you might be having.  There are certain patterns of thinking called Cognitive Distortions that keep your anxiety from going away.  Sometimes, you fall into these patterns often and can end up feeling very stuck in your anxiety.

Some of the thinking patterns, or cognitive distortions, that are common for people with anxiety include:

  • Polarized, black-and-white thinking without acknowledging the gray
  • Jumping to conclusions (assuming you know what will happen in the future)
  • Overgeneralization (making a conclusion based on a single note of evidence)
  • Personalization (assuming that someone else’s actions directly have to do with you)
  • Catastrophizing (assuming the worst will happen)
  • Control fallacies (being a victim of fate or assuming we can control how others behave/feel)
  • Emotional reasoning (if you feel a certain way, it must be true)

Simply identifying these cognitive distortions can help you understand how your negative thoughts shape your worldview. Learning how to challenge and reframe these thoughts can help you think more realistically and positively.

CBT Techniques

Therapists typically use many different skills and interventions in treating anxiety. Please note that each therapist uses a different approach during counseling. The approach may vary on several factors including other issues and history of past therapy.

In general, when you see a CBT therapist for anxiety, you’ll take a closer look at these negative thinking patterns. You’ll begin to understand how they impact your anxiety and learn new, helpful ways of coping with anxious thoughts and feelings.

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is a technique that shows you how to acknowledge (and change) automatic thoughts. It may include writing down the situation that triggers negative thoughts. During CBT for anxiety, you will learn how to challenge these thoughts by looking at the evidence and deciding if alternative views exist.

Mindfulness Meditation

We all know the many benefits associated with meditation. Most CBT counselors use mindfulness as part of their practice. The relaxation training helps you learn how not to let your negative thoughts consume you. Meditation skills may include a variety of exercises including deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and grounding exercises.

Graded Exposure

Graded exposure can be a powerful tool in treating phobias. A phobia is an extreme fear or aversion to something. This technique allows you to confront the feared situation in a more comfortable way. You will take ‘baby steps’ that encourage you to take small, calculated risks towards overcoming the discomfort. Over time you will eventually overcome the anxious situation.

Activity Scheduling

Anxiety can impact your ability to participate in healthy and rewarding activities. Thus, activity scheduling helps people organize and increase positive behaviors throughout the week. Using a calendar or spreadsheet, you will be instructed to identify and schedule self-care activities like meditating, exercising, or calling a friend. During CBT for anxiety, you may be asked to rank your emotions before, during, and after completing the activity.


Therapists may give you homework in-between sessions to help you practice skills learned in therapy. The assignments will vary, but can include journaling, thought change records, meditation exercises, and practicing skills training. After that, you will review your homework in your next session.

Beyond CBT for Anxiety

CBT can be a fantastic, therapeutic tool for starting your anxiety treatment. That said, it may not be appropriate for deeper, long-term work.

Anxiety can be caused by serious, unresolved issues related to trauma, poor self-esteem, and unhealthy family dynamics. Other forms of therapy such as EMDR, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy may be more appropriate for such issues.

Young woman with sunglasses looking up and smiling. She received anxiety treatment using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and learned to cope with anxious thoughts at Willow Counseling in Nashville, TN.

Some of the counselors and mental health professionals at Willow Counseling specialize in anxiety treatment. When offering to counsel for anxiety, we tailor the approach to fit the individual needs of the client. However, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often a very effective way to help you overcome anxiety. We believe CBT for anxiety is excellent for helping you find initial relief from anxiety. After that, we may begin using different approaches to give you more insight to which help you gain emotional awareness and build a greater sense of self-worth.

Are you tired of anxiety interfering with your life? Let’s connect. Learn more about how Willow Counseling can help you today.

CBT for Anxiety at Willow Counseling in Nashville, TN

The mission of Willow Counseling, PLLC is to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community. We recognize how our emotional, spiritual and physical selves are all connected. Therefore, our therapists treat the whole person when.

Through counseling sessions, you and your therapist will work together to reduce your anxiety symptoms, learn new coping skills, solve problems in your life, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. Basically, we will help you improve your overall mental health. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again. Through counseling, you will begin to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.

How to start getting help for your anxiety

If you are ready to begin CBT for anxiety at Willow Counseling, follow these easy steps:

  1. Contact our counseling office to schedule a free 30-minute phone consultation,
  2. Meet with one of our anxiety therapists, and
  3. Begin taking back control over your life.
Image of concentrated african american man standing by railing at sports stadium outdoors after stepping away due to social anxiety. Willow Counseling therapists help treat anxiety disorders of all kinds in Nashville, TN.

Other Mental Health Services at Willow Counseling in Nashville, TN

We want to help you live your best life possible. Therefore, we offer a variety of mental health services in our Nashville counseling office. In addition to CBT for anxiety, Willow Counseling also offers mental health services for compassion fatigue and EMDR trauma therapy. Our counseling staff also offers group therapy sessions to help you find peace and healing.


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