5.5 Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy
CBT is an evidence-based psychological intervention that can be effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders. It is recommended in line with the stepped-care approach set out in the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence guidance (NICE, 2014). CBT identifies connections between feelings, thoughts and behaviours and develops practical ways to manage patterns of behaviour that are causing problems.
Exposure therapy is a form of desensitisation, which involves gradually exposing the person to the object or situation that they fear, but in a safe and controlled way and working with a therapist. A sense of control, for example, over a phobia can be developed through repeated experiences, but this does need to be carefully managed to avoid causing further distress and relies on close interaction and communication with the therapist.