How Hope Helps Heals in Cognitive Behavior Therapy : Research Brief

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting over 1 in every 6 adults every year. People with anxiety disorders typically experience intense fear, nervousness, worry, or uneasiness that can significantly impact the quality of their lives. 

While Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is well-accepted as the leading treatment for anxiety disorders (Kaczkurkin & Foa, 2015), this study shows that hope is an integral mechanism of recovery and that changes in hope encourages beneficial changes in symptoms. 

The results of the study also show a strong relationship between changes in levels of hope and levels of anxiety symptoms.

Healing can begin at the point of referral. Simply informing a potential therapy patient that recovery is plausible, as long as the patient is able to commit to hard work, can start the healing process. 


Highlights from the Study

“The results of the present study indicate that hope increases during the course of CBT, and increases in hope were greater for those in active treatment than for those in the waitlist comparison” (p.199). 

“The magnitude of the associations between changes in hope and changes in anxiety were large and suggest not only that changes in hope predict symptom recovery, but that hope could be a particularly important factor in predicting recovery across different treatment protocols” (p. 199).

“… there is a strong relationship between changes in hope and changes in anxiety such that greater increases in hope are associated with greater decreases in anxiety” (p.197).


At Feeling Good Institute, we use a model of CBT that focuses heavily on building hope for clients. We do this through an advanced form of Agenda Setting that creates a comprehensive and easy to understand path to recovery.  

Learn about the essential skills for effective cognitive behavior therapy and how we set therapists up for success.

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