Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT For Public Speaking

CBT For Public Speaking

Public speaking anxiety is a common fear that affects many individuals, from students to professionals. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely recognized and effective treatment for public speaking anxiety. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of CBT for public speaking anxiety, how it works, and the various approaches involved in it. We will also discuss some ways to find CBT treatment.

What Is CBT?

What Is CBT?CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a psychotherapy that focuses on changing negative patterns of thinking and behavior to improve mental health. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected. By changing one of these components, we can influence others. It is a structured, time-limited approach that is effective in treating a wide range of mental health disorders.

Is CBT Effective For Public Speaking?

Yes, CBT can be effective for public speaking anxiety. Public speaking anxiety is a common form of social anxiety, and CBT can help individuals identify and challenge their negative thoughts and beliefs about public speaking, as well as develop coping strategies to manage their anxiety. CBT for public speaking anxiety may involve exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, relaxation techniques, and other coping skills.

How Does CBT Work?

Given below are the steps involved in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:


The therapist will conduct an assessment to understand the individual’s specific concerns and triggers related to public speaking. This may involve asking questions about past experiences with public speaking, the individual’s thoughts and feelings about it, and how it affects their daily life.

Identifying negative thoughts

The therapist will work with the individual to identify their negative thoughts and beliefs about public speaking, such as “I’ll embarrass myself in front of others” or “I won’t be able to speak clearly.” This step involves helping the individual become more aware of their thought patterns and how they contribute to their anxiety.

Challenging negative thoughts

The therapist will help the individual challenge their negative thoughts and beliefs by providing evidence that contradicts them, such as past successful public speaking experiences or positive feedback from others. This process is designed to help the individual see their negative thoughts as inaccurate and unhelpful.

Developing strategies

The therapist will work with the individual to develop coping strategies to manage their anxiety, such as relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, or mindfulness practices. These strategies are designed to help the individual stay calm and focused during public speaking situations.

Behavioral experiments

Behavioral experiments

The therapist may also use behavioral experiments, which involve testing out beliefs and assumptions in real-life situations, such as giving a speech while intentionally making mistakes to see how others react. This process is designed to help the individual learn from their experiences and develop more realistic beliefs about public speaking.


The individual may be given homework assignments to practice their coping strategies and challenge their negative thoughts outside of therapy sessions. This may involve practicing relaxation techniques or gradually increasing the difficulty of public speaking situations they encounter in daily life.

Approaches Used In CBT

Here are some approaches that the therapist might use to treat public speaking fear and anxiety:

Cognitive restructuring

In this approach, the therapist works with the individual to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to public speaking anxiety. This may involve identifying common cognitive distortions such as catastrophizing (imagining the worst-case scenario) or overgeneralizing (assuming a negative outcome will happen every time). The therapist will then help the individual to develop more positive and realistic thoughts and beliefs about public speaking, such as “I am well-prepared and have something valuable to share.”

Exposure therapy

This approach involves gradually exposing the individual to public speaking situations that trigger anxiety, starting with less challenging situations and working up to more challenging ones. This exposure can be in vivo (real-life situations) or imaginal (in the imagination) and can involve various techniques such as relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, and social skills training. Through repeated exposure, the individual can desensitize to the fear and anxiety associated with public speaking, and eventually become more comfortable and confident in these situations.

Behavioral experiments

In this approach, the individual and therapist work together to develop and test out new behaviors and approaches. Such as using positive self-talk, deep breathing, or visualization techniques. The therapist may also encourage the individual to experiment with different types of public speaking, such as giving a talk to a small group of friends or colleagues or practicing public speaking in a safe and supportive environment.

Mindfulness-based CBT

This approach incorporates mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, body scanning, and meditation to help the individual become more aware of their thoughts and feelings during public speaking. By learning to observe and accept their thoughts and feelings without judgment, individuals can develop greater self-awareness and self-regulation, which can help to reduce anxiety and improve public speaking performance.

Group therapy

Group therapy

Group therapy can provide a supportive environment for individuals to practice public speaking skills, share strategies for managing anxiety, and receive feedback and support from others who have similar experiences. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who feel isolated or ashamed of their public speaking anxiety and can help to build confidence and social skills over time.

Benefits Of CBT

Here are some of the benefits of using CBT for public speaking anxiety:

  • Improved coping skills: CBT can help individuals develop coping skills and strategies to manage their anxiety during public speaking. This can include techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Reduced anxiety: CBT can help individuals reduce their overall level of anxiety and fear when it comes to public speaking. By identifying and challenging negative thought patterns, individuals can learn to think more positively and realistically about the situation.
  • Increased confidence: Individuals become more comfortable with public speaking and learn to manage their anxiety. Hence, they may experience an increase in confidence and self-esteem.
  • Improved public speaking skills: CBT uses exposure therapy and behavioral experiments. This can help individuals improve their public speaking skills and performance.
  • Long-lasting results: CBT is a structured and evidence-based approach that can produce long-lasting results. It can develop new habits and ways of thinking that can benefit them in other areas of life as well.

Ways To Find CBT For Public Speaking

Ways To Find CBT For Public SpeakingHere are some ways to find CBT for public speaking anxiety:

  • Search Online: Look for therapists online who specialize in cognitive-behavioral therapy. You can search online directories or contact your insurance provider for a list of therapists in your network.
  • Ask for recommendations: Reach out to friends, family members, or colleagues who have received therapy for public speaking anxiety. Ask them for recommendations.
  • Check with local universities: Many universities and colleges offer counseling services to their students. Some may also offer low-cost or free therapy to community members.
  • Look for online therapy options: Many therapists now offer online therapy sessions. This can be a convenient and accessible option for individuals who have difficulty attending in-person sessions.
  • Referrals: You can also ask your primary care physician or a mental health professional for a referral.


In conclusion, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be a highly effective treatment for individuals struggling with public speaking anxiety. Through a combination of assessment, negative thought identification, coping skill development, and exposure therapy, CBT can help individuals reduce anxiety, increase confidence, and improve public speaking skills. If you are experiencing public speaking anxiety, seeking help from a qualified therapist who specializes in CBT can provide you with the tools and support you need to overcome your fears and succeed in public speaking.

For more information, please contact MantraCare. Public Speaking fear is a serious behavior that can cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm to a person. If you have any queries regarding Online Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial Online therapy session.

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