According to the National Institute of Mental Health, research has demonstrated that cognitive-behavioral therapy is highly effective in treating anxiety disorders. This is a combination of cognitive therapy, which can modify or eliminate thought patterns that contribute to anxiety or depression symptoms and behavioral therapy which helps eliminate unwanted behavior and create behavior that supports recovery. Individuals may be unaware of or unable to stop automatic negative, fearful distortions in thinking that cause the feelings and stress reactions that are bothering them. Clients learn to identify those thoughts, attitudes and underlying beliefs, stop the automatic thinking, create and instill a positive attitude.

Behavior therapy encompasses stress and anxiety reduction techniques such as: specific breathing techniques, meditation, mindfulness, exercise, diet, biofeedback, relaxation training and guided imagery. Dr. Dufford often records these segments of the therapy session providing a custom CD for the client. A series of these recorded tools and techniques are available in the Self Help Tools section of this website. Cognitive behavioral therapy also involves overcoming fears by practicing desired actions such as public speaking, interacting in social situations, flying, driving over bridges, going to certain places, etc. This is called exposure therapy or desensitization and is done gradually (first in visualization then in real life) using all of the cognitive-behavioral tools mentioned above so that there is a positive feedback loop of comfort, success and confidence.

A somewhat different behavioral method is used for OCD called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) which involves controlled exposure to whatever triggers the obsession and then refraining from carrying out compulsive rituals. This ultimately lessens the thoughts, feelings and compulsive urges of OCD and provides a structured set of techniques to employ whenever obsessions or compulsions arise. Habit Reversal Training is a cognitive-behavioral process used successfully for impulse control issues such as Trichotillomania, skin picking and nail biting.

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