Fear is a natural and valuable emotion. It has great survival value for human beings, preparing us to fight for survival or run away quickly from a threat. But too much fear in the form of chronic anxiety is incredibly painful and debilitating.
Anxiety is prolonged fear that persists in the absence of a real threat: after a threat is over, during situations that aren’t actually very dangerous, or before a potential threat in the future. When anxiety becomes chronic and dominates your life, it morphs into an anxiety disorder. Research consistently shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective anxiety treatment. It works better than drugs, psychoanalysis, hypnosis, and all the other ways we have tried to treat anxiety over the years.
Broadly speaking, two CBT approaches for treating anxiety have emerged: coping and exposure. Coping is changing how you think, evaluating threats more accurately, and building confidence in your ability to handle a threat so that you are gradually less afraid. Exposure is purposefully experiencing what you are afraid of, disproving your dire predictions of disaster, until your fear naturally subsides. The most recent data show that both approaches help, but exposure can work faster and results in larger, longer-lasting reductions in anxiety.
The first two-thirds of this book teach you everything you need to know to apply the latest and most effective protocol for exposure, called inhibitory learning. It was developed by a team of therapists and researchers (Craske, Treanor, Conway, Zbozinek, and Vervliet) who published their results in 2014. This special exposure process will help you overcome anxiety as rapidly and completely as possible.
This book also covers the most effective coping strategies used in CBT and related therapies: coping planning, defusion, cognitive flexibility, and distress tolerance. They are research-tested, highly effective techniques that will augment and strengthen your anxiety recovery program.