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The Role of Self-Discipline in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety & Depression 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapists (CBT)
at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando treating individuals with anxiety disorders (social anxiety, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression often emphasize the importance of self-discipline.  Homework is an important component of CBT and is developed collaboratively during each session with both the therapist and client as active participants. GroundWork Counseling therapists emphasize that most of the work of getting better happens by practicing between sessions. Because CBT requires frequent practice of new skills, some of which are initially uncomfortable, self-discipline is a necessary component for successful therapy outcome.

Therapeutic Homework assignments might look like this:

  • Social Anxiety: Interacting with people you might normally avoid.  Going to places that make you uncomfortable.
  • Phobias, OCD, Panic: Gradually, systematically facing the thing, situation you would normally avoid. Resisting the urge to give in to avoidance behaviors.
  • Depression: Scheduling activities you might normally avoid, doing them even when you don’t really feel like it.

Of course, none of these homework assignments are going to be easy in the beginning. They are also time consuming and will likely cause discomfort.  When we lack self-discipline, we often let ourselves off the hook.  We might say, “I’ll do it just this once”; “l’m too upset right now to handle exposures”; “I’ve had a really tough week and I can’t handle being anxious” or “I don’t have time for this”.

When we lack self-discipline, we often hold unhelpful beliefs about being uncomfortable.  These can include:

  • Changing shouldn’t be that hard. It’s awful that I have to be so uncomfortable to get better.  Forget it.  I won’t even try.
  • I need to be able to escape with food or drugs or other escapist things even when I know that this way of coping is doing more harm than good.
  • I want an easy, comfortable way of accomplishing my goals so I will look for a magical solution.
  • If I try and I fail at making changes, it would be horrible. I cannot stand failing at anything, so I better give up trying.
  • I have to be in the mood and motivated whenever I do my homework.All conditions must be perfect before I start.
  • I can’t stand to be deprived.

At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we believe that the work that is done by clients between therapy sessions is often as or more important than what is done in the session itself. It is widely recognized that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the first-choice therapy for anxiety disorders (social anxiety, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and a multitude of other challenges, but CBT is not a magic wand. It requires self-discipline and practice, practice, practice!

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GroundWork Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
341 N Maitland Ave #330
Maitland, FL 32751


411 Congress St #3292
Portland, ME 04101

Burlington, VT 05043

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