Efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: a review of meta-analytic findings

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Sep;33(3):557-77. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2010.04.002.


Numerous clinical trials have supported the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Accordingly, CBT has been formally recognized as an empirically supported treatment for anxiety-related conditions. This article reviews the evidence supporting the efficacy of CBT for anxiety disorders. Specifically, contemporary meta-analytic studies on the treatment of anxiety disorders are reviewed and the efficacy of CBT is examined. Although the specific components of CBT differ depending on the study design and the anxiety disorder treated, meta-analyses suggest that CBT procedures (particularly exposure-based approaches) are highly efficacious. CBT generally outperforms wait-list and placebo controls. Thus, CBT provides incremental efficacy above and beyond nonspecific factors. For some anxiety disorders, CBT also tends to outperform other psychosocial treatment modalities. The implications of available meta-analytic findings in further delineating the efficacy and dissemination of CBT for anxiety disorders are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic