At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley in Saratoga/San Jose, we specialize in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for teenagers with anxiety including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and excessive worry. Our approach with teenagers is practical, goal-oriented, compassionate, and scientifically-based while focusing on your teen’s individual needs..
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is excessive worry and anxiety about a number life issues including school, achievement, friends, family issues, health, safety and/or personal appearance. Teens who are experiencing generalized anxiety and excessive worry find it difficult to stop themselves from worrying. The worry can feel like it is spiraling out of control and taking on a life of its own.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety in Teenagers
- “What if” thinking and catastrophizing about a number of life events and activities
- Feeling restless and “on edge”
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Being easily irritated and annoyed by others
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep or still feeling tired after sleep
- Changes in functioning including dropping grades and increased conflict with family and friends
Cognitive Behavioral Model of Generalized Anxiety Disorder for Adolescents
For many teens with generalized anxiety, worry is used to distract their minds from negative thoughts and emotional experiences, including feelings of sadness, anger, fear and disappointment. Worry works in the short run by occupying the mind and preventing it from experiencing these negative emotions. However, worry tends to increase anxiety on top of the upsetting emotions, ultimately creating even more distress for the teen. Some teens may also believe that worrying prevents or prepares them for negative life events, making them reluctant to give up this behavior. Other teens struggle with uncertainty and may cope with ambiguous or indefinite situations by worrying excessively.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Teens with Generalized Anxiety
CBT for generalized anxiety with teenagers seeks to modify the beliefs and behaviors that maintain your teen’s anxiety and excessive worry. The first component of treatment is education about the nature of anxiety and how generalized anxiety is maintained by a desire to avoid negative emotions, as well as the teen’s belief that he or she will not be able to cope with negative and stressful situations. After identifying the thoughts and behaviors that maintain your teen’s anxiety and identifying “worry patterns,” the therapist will teach new skills for dealing with excessive worry and coping with anxious feelings. These skills with include calming strategies (e.g. diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery) and cognitive interventions aimed at replacing fearful “what if” thoughts with helpful, balanced and realistic thoughts. The next component of treatment is for the teens to face their fears, in session and in the real world, and practice their new ways of coping with anxiety. With practice and experience facing their worries, most teens find themselves worrying less and being more able to cope with stress and uncertainty.
Common Goals of Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Teenagers
- Reduce overall anxiety level and worrying
- Differentiate between productive and unproductive worry
- Learn problem solving skills to deal with real life problems instead of senseless worry
- Build coping skills for dealing with anxiety and other normal negative emotions and stressful life events
- Increase tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty, as well as their belief that they will be able to handle stressful situations
Getting Help for Your Teen with Anxiety and Worry
The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley specializes in therapy and counseling for teenagers with generalized anxiety and worry. With our convenient location in Saratoga just a 1/2 mile (2 minute drive) from Hwy 85, we serve the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Campbell, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Los Altos. Contact us at (408) 384-8404 for more information on how we can help your teen manage their anxiety and worry.