CBT can help combat anxiety and phobias

Anxiety disorders may be effectively tackled through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), new research has suggested. Peter Norton, Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology and Director of the Anxiety Disorder Clinic at the University of Houston, found the approach could be beneficial for people with certain phobias.

Mr Norton discovered CBT, when carried out in conjunction with transdiagnostic methods, can result in improvements for individuals scared of flying, public speaking and spiders.

It was shown that this technique may be better than other options - such as relaxation training - and recommended therapists use treatments that apply one set of principles across all other kinds of anxiety disorders.

Mr Norton observed: "I could open a group to people with anxiety disorders in general and develop a treatment program regardless of the artificial distinctions between social phobia and panic disorder."

He added such an approach enabled him to place greater emphasis on the underlying issues causing the problems.

Elaine Iljon Foreman, a Chartered Psychologist, comments:

"The findings of Peter Norton echo research in the UK, suggesting CBT is one of the most effective treatments for a range of anxiety disorders. My own research suggests that people who are afraid of flying for different underlying reasons, such as panic disorder, social phobia, agoraphobia, claustrophobia and fears of a catastrophe befalling the plane can be successfully offered treatment transdiagnostically within a small group of up to four participants."