Relaxation vs Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies for Anxiety Disorders

There are many academic research papers and studies published in peer reviewed journals looking at relaxation techniques and approaches. There is one recent study that has interesting results. In the meta-analysis published by Montero et al., (2018) titled ‘Is cognitive–behavioural therapy more effective than relaxation therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders? A meta-analysis‘, the results provided a useful insight into the relative effectiveness of relaxation vs CBT. The meta-analysis included 50 studies (2801 patients) comparing relaxation training with behavioural and cognitive treatments of anxiety. Importantly, no significant difference was found between relaxation and cognitive and behavioural therapies for panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and specific phobias (considering social anxiety and specific phobias separately). This suggests that relatively simple interventions such as relaxation techniques, if professionally taught, could help many sufferers of these conditions without receiving CBT.

Relaxation is fairly easy to teach people of all ages and unlike CBT, could be a service that can be provided at a lower cost by health providers thereby reaching more clients and patients both nationally and possibly internationally too. Around the world many health systems are under-resourced and simple relaxation techniques could be applied more generally to help clients and patients to tackle a range of psychological conditions.