November 01, 2019

Anxiety: Short-course therapy can be effective

If you have a mental health condition such as anxiety, there's a very good chance cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you. But don't assume that getting treatment means months or years of sitting on a therapist's couch. In fact, doctors have discovered that the benefits of therapy can be obtained from just a handful of therapy sessions.

Speed psychotherapy — also called brief cognitive behavioral therapy — allows people to achieve specific, collaborative therapy goals in a limited number of sessions. Researchers looking at a Mayo Clinic therapy program found that significant improvements in anxiety symptoms and mood were often achievable in seven sessions or fewer. The program treated anxiety disorders that included phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and more. Speed psychotherapy has also been successfully used for other conditions such as depression.

When choosing a therapist, ask if he or she specializes in anxiety, practices CBT, uses exposure therapy to desensitize you to what's causing your anxiety, and can focus treatment so that you reach your goals in a few sessions. Your effort is important, too, as the more you practice therapy skills between treatment sessions, the more benefit you're likely to experience. Keep in mind that some people will still benefit from a longer course of therapy or from combining therapy with medication.