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Cognitive behavioral therapies that make us better able to live with anxiety

writer: MITAMURA, Takashi(College of Comprehensive Psychology, Associate Professor) published: 2018-1

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a general term for cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive/behavioral forms of psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on knowledge gained from empirical research, and is one of the largest groups of psychotherapies that focus on ongoing daily development. Many empirical studies have shown cognitive behavioral therapy to be effective in treating various psychological and behavioral problems. Examples of psychological/behavioral issues that cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to effectively treat include ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), bipolar disorder, borderline personality syndrome, pain, depression, eating disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), schizophrenia, social anxiety, specific phobic disorders, and substance/alcohol dependence (from the American Psychological Association website).

Exposure therapy: An effective psychotherapy for anxiety disorder

One particularly important technique within cognitive behavioral therapy is called “exposure therapy.” Exposure therapy is a method of learning techniques with your body that help you deal with stimuli that cause you anxiety or discomfort by actively engaging with them rather than avoiding them. Exposure therapy is effective in treating a variety of psychological and behavioral problems, and has been repeatedly confirmed by empirical studies to be extremely effective in treating various forms of anxiety in particular.

Disseminating effective techniques

Since exposure therapy is so effective, anyone struggling with any sort of anxiety would presumably want to receive it. In practice, however, the number of practitioners who can properly provide it remains limited in Japan. One reason for this is that the introduction of cognitive behavioral therapy in this country is comparatively recent when viewed from the perspective of its history of psychotherapy. When it comes to new forms of psychotherapy, the number of trainers who can instruct practitioners on its proper use is limited. Another reason is the fact that practitioners themselves are hesitant to employ this approach that encourages people to face the stimuli that cause them anxiety and discomfort. This phenomenon is not limited to Japan, but has also been identified in Western countries where cognitive behavioral therapy is more widespread.
With a desire to have more practitioners use exposure therapy in mind, this project examines methods of training them in this effective psychotherapy technique. As part of this effort, we are also publishing an introductory textbook for those studying cognitive behavioral therapy (Hajimete manabu kōdō ryōhō [Introduction to behavioral therapy] (Kongo Shuppan)).



Ritsumeikan Journal of Human Sciences


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