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Adolescent Anxiety

As many as one quarter of adolescents experience anxiety; and around 6% of people have anxiety their entire lives. According to Emily Bilek, who treats children and adolescents, normal fears are adaptive, but when anxiety interferes with life, or it becomes a “presence,” and the sufferer or someone in the family says “something’s got to give,” it’s time to seek help. She said the cause of the anxiety isn’t important; treatment will have a positive effect, and CBT is the gold standard of care.

Bilek says that avoidance (of the thing that makes us anxious) narrows life. Often, anticipating the fear or even the physical changes that come with the anxiety is often worse than the thing feared. We tend to over-predict negative outcomes and under-predict our own resiliency. For the entire interview, see video; for those interested in how we might treat, look at minute 13.

For more on anxiety, see ANXIETY Fact Sheet  and this news

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.

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