Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in short CBT is an important and effective therapy to overcome panic disorders, and this can usually be completed within 8 sessions. I use CBT at my practice in Hertfordshire and have found it very useful in treating agoraphobia, particularly when used in conjunction with a newer cognitive therapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). This article details some of the ways in which CBT and NLP are used during NLP Herts to help clients achieve freedom from agoraphobia.
1. Cognitive Therapy – At NLP and CBT Herts, people are supported to identify and change the distorted thinking patterns that maintain anxiety. Behind panic attacks and anxiety are negative thoughts. These thoughts alone cannot cause anxiety, but the belief that they are true does cause anxiety. The therapist works with the client to reduce belief in such thoughts, this in turn reduces anxiety.
2. Behavioural Therapy – This involves desensitizing your anxiety through gradual exposure to your feared situations. The therapist offers practical support and activities may be carried out in the community, during these sessions.
3. Learning cognitive techniques to beat your panic – clients that come for NLP and CBT Herts are taught specific techniques that can be used and that must be practiced in between sessions. The challenge is using these techniques during times when you are experiencing panic and clients are supported to become competent at this. Of course, once clients are competent they become panic free!
4. Practising – You will get out of therapy what you put in and mastering your panic will involve you carrying out practice in between sessions. Typical practice assignments include keeping a ‘Beating Panic’ Journal’, carrying out practice related to your ‘going out and about’ goal and creating a routine that involves empowering ‘calm’ activities. You will also be required to practice any coping techniques taught to you by the therapist, such as using your anchors (see below).
5. NLP Communication Model – Clients are taught NLP clean language techniques. This means learning to think and communicate with your self in a way that supports being safe, confident, and relaxed.
6. NLP Change Techniques – NLP, which is an understanding of how we code experience in our brain, has a range of techniques, which can be used to reduce or eradicate the intensity of remembered experiences. Its possible to take an unpleasant memory, examine how it is coded and then make changes so that it is no longer unpleasant and the emotion can just drain away. If you suffer from unpleasant memories or fears, an NLP therapist can help you deal with this, via submodality work. These treatments are available from my therapy practice, where I use NLP Herts. You can also learn to be aware of the impact of how you code experience yourself.
7. Anchoring For Emotional Balance - Anchors are naturally occurring associations between an external stimulus and a behavioural or emotional response. They occur because the human mind constantly seeks to make sense of the environment by looking for patterns and associations between things. People learn to make negative associations between things. In the case of agoraphobia this may be associating going for a walk to the corner shop with fear and panic. NLP deliberately makes use of anchors in order to empower people to have control over their emotional states. There are specific NLP techniques in which a stimulus is used to trigger and link an emotional state. The stimulus is usually external and may be a sound or touch. Through these techniques it is possible to for an individual to build up a resource of positive emotional states, which they can access in any situation in which they need them. It is also possible to completely collapse negative anchors so that external stimuli that because you negative emotional states will no longer be an issue.
These are just some of the ways that NLP and CBT Herts can be powerful at empowering people to defeat agoraphobia and other panic attacks.