The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety

Using CBT to manage stress and anxiety

By: James Cowart, PhD

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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 216 x 140mm
Pages : 160
ISBN : 9781785831676
Format: Paperback
Published: July 2017

In The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety: Using CBT to manage stress and anxiety, James Cowart offers a concise collection of tried-and-tested strategies from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and makes them accessible to people who are learning to cope with their anxiety on a day-to-day basis.

Anxiety is a normal part of our human nature. For spurring you to make decisions or perform, it can actually be helpful. However, an unchecked pattern of intrusive negative thoughts can escalate the severity and persistence of the level of anxiety experienced over time. As this worsens, it is not uncommon to feel an increasing lack of control – ultimately leading to a chain of self-defeating behaviors that may negatively affect all aspects of your daily life. Yet, while it is not possible to directly control our emotions (or what others think or do), it is possible to learn and apply coping skills that can help you face feared situations – rather than escape or avoid them.

James Cowart’s aim in The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety is to share a toolbox of CBT techniques garnered over 40 years’ clinical practice that will enable you to manage your anxiety on a sustainable path toward taking back some of that control. These self-help strategies focus on developing key coping skills designed to reduce fear and anxiety, and are complemented by a user-friendly, step-by-step program of practical exercises that can be personalized to meet each individual’s unique needs.

Informed by his extensive experience and therapeutic knowledge, and with real-life case studies to guide you along your own journey, James’s easy-to-remember ABCS approach is as transformative as it is simple:

  • A is for accepting the thoughts and feelings you can and can’t control.
  • B is for breathing slowly and naturally to relieve and relax muscle tension.
  • C is for countering any unrealistic or catastrophic thoughts with truth and logic.
  • S is for staying with it so you can face your fears and anxieties until they are reduced. 

Each step is explored in detail in the first four chapters, and further discussion is also dedicated to using the ABCS with different types of anxiety (including social anxiety, specific phobias, panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)) and coping with related depression, anger and impulsivity. Punctuated with research-informed insight and instruction throughout, The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety offers hope, relief and reassurance in helping you master your anxiety and work toward greater independence.

Suitable for those living with anxiety and for the health professionals – including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and counselors – working with them.

The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety has been placed highly commended in the health and social care category in the 2018 BMA Medical Book Awards.

Click here to read James Cowart’s article, ‘Why is anxiety increasing among our young people?’

Picture for author James Cowart, PhD

James Cowart, PhD

James Cowart is a psychologist with a special interest in providing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to people suffering with anxiety disorders. He has a PhD in Applied Behaviour Analysis and is a member of the American Psychological Association. He specialises in problem-solving formats in family and couples therapy, as well as cognitive behavioural and interpersonal approaches to treat depression and anxiety.

Click here to read James Cowart's article - Why is anxiety increasing among our young people?'

Four big skills for coping with stress and anxiety in business and in life'.

Click here to listen to James' podcast with LCCH International.


  1. Those of us who utilise CBT with clients will be familiar with the terminology of 'ABC' being used to refer to 'activating events', 'beliefs' and 'consequences'. However, this book utilises the initials in a different way, with 'A' referring to 'acceptance', 'B' to 'breathing and relaxation', and 'C' for 'countering'. The 'S' is for 'staying with it'. This easy-to-follow format can help clients remember the steps to take to reduce the impact of their anxiety. Each letter has a dedicated chapter of its own, which covers the key issues and provides practical exercises.

    This book outlines the various forms that anxiety can take, including social anxiety, panic, agoraphobia, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and phobias. Chapter seven describes how to use the ABC model with these various forms of anxiety.

    The book presents CBT techniques in an accessible format for the reader. No prior knowledge of the theory is required, making it a useful self-help guide. The step-by-step process it sets out can be personalised to meet individual needs. The book would be useful for mental healthcare professionals working with anxiety issues, as well as for clients themselves, as it helps them to understand how their anxiety may affect them and how they can overcome it.

    This review first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal, published by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotheray. 2018'©.

  2. A simple, clear book to help those suffering from anxiety and stress. Written by James Cowart, PhD, an American psychologist who specialises in treating depression and anxiety, this is a relatively short book, it feels safe to pick up, is easy to read and understand, and in particular the exercises feel achievable. While primarily for those suffering from anxiety and stress, this would also be suitable for their relations or friends. Anxiety touches nearly all of us in some way, the explanation of anxiety, and the coping mechanisms using cognitive behavioural therapy, should help create a greater understanding of anxiety and how it can be reduced or even stopped.

    Click here to read the review on Love Reading's website.
  3. The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety is written in a beautifully straightforward, uncomplicated way that allows the reader to follow both its instruction and the author's thought process with ease.

    I am not a cognitive behavioural therapist and, as such, I would look for root causes to illuminate the belief system that created the anxiety in the first place. James Cowart helps the reader to recognise their triggers and, by doing so, assists them to interrupt their self-defeating anxiety patterns. Anxiety is often caused - as is eloquently explained in the book - by lack of control, however I believe the direct, descriptive ABCS approach will help many in taking back some of that control by better recognising what they can and can't influence.

    The ideas and explanations are clear and I have no doubt The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety will be a trusted companion for many in seeking coping strategies for their anxiety.

  4. The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety is a concise, clear, specific and practical user-friendly guide for sufferers of various anxiety issues. The author has combined findings from the best evidence-based outcome research on anxiety treatment with the real-world knowledge that can only be gained from years of actual clinical experience treating anxiety patients. The result is a compact guide to lead the reader through a sequence of four practical steps - the ABCS.

    Intended as a self-help guide for those who cannot readily access professional help (for any number of reasons), the ABCS approach focuses on the key treatment steps that clinical research evidence has confirmed are necessary, if not essential, for recovery from debilitating anxiety problems. The guide would also prove useful to those searching for the most effective kind of professional help with their anxiety by ensuring that key evidence-based treatment components are effectively covered in sessions with their therapist.

    Although symptoms may differ across the anxiety disorders spectrum, the book lays out the core treatment components that have been found to be widely effective. The ABCS approach, however, does also discuss, explain, and provide more specific suggestions for dealing with various symptoms as they differ among the anxiety disorders. This helps readers to personalize their coping program to meet their unique needs and circumstances.

    Having a book like The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety available addresses several practical real-life needs facing sufferers of debilitating anxiety. Some sufferers live too far away from professional providers; others cannot afford professional help; others may feel too shy or embarrassed to seek help; and others may wish to try to master their anxiety on their own. All can benefit from reading The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety.

  5. James has simplified the complex treatment for anxiety and made it accessible to all, providing a good foundation for understanding what anxiety really is and what works in overcoming it.

    If anxiety is holding you back from living the life you want to live, The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety offers evidence-based techniques for facing your fears - whether you're doing it alone, or alongside a therapist.

  6. The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety is the most concise but comprehensive book that I have read on the subject, and will be useful to both those living with anxiety and the therapists who treat them.

    It is a book that can be used by the individual alone or with their therapist - and might also be very useful for those attending self-help groups. I highly recommend The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety because of its logical organization, allowing the reader to clearly understand what is necessary to help them recover from anxiety.

  7. I've read many books on CBT over the years but this is without doubt my favourite!

    Although it is primarily intended for sufferers of stress and anxiety disorders, I believe professionals will also find it a helpful resource, full of clear, easy-to-understand explanations to use with patients. I love James Cowart's crystal clear style, which never sounds in any way condescending. He offers the reader hope and reassurance that the practical coping skills will prove effective when they stay with the approach.

  8. I can't give The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety enough praise. James Cowart has written a most engaging volume: one that is succinct, comprehensive and straightforward to read.

    Appealing to both the client and therapist alike, it provides sensible approaches to working with anxiety disorders that come from a CBT perspective, without being afraid to dip its metaphorical toes into the third wave therapies and beyond. This engaging, pluralistic framework is refreshing as we are brought back to the often-forgotten foundations of anxiety management and are encouraged to build effective strategies around the author's ABCS model. James provides many interesting and useful case examples that guide the reader through the client exercises, highlighting their immediate relevance to effectively managing a variety of anxiety disorders.

    This honest and realistic book has something for everyone, including the client's partner and family members.

  9. The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety is a remarkable read. It is as if the reader is actually speaking with James Cowart, whose voice is authentic, highly respectful and, most importantly, supportive as he provides carefully scaffolded guidance to those in need of coping skills to manage anxiety and stress on a day-to-day basis.

    The book appears to be beguilingly simple, although it  is clearly a rich source of evidence-based strategies and tactics with which to approach the management of anxiety. James provides academic references and resources for those suffering the effects of anxiety, and for mental health professionals who wish to delve more deeply into specific aspects of dealing with anxiety.

    At the heart of The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety is a focus on the applications of the coping skills to specific anxiety-related problems - all garnered from over 40 years' practice as a psychologist using cognitive behavioral therapy. It also includes coping skills for dealing with anxiety associated with depression and anger outbursts and provides specific tools and exercises to facilitate the implementation of these skills.

    An invaluable guide for those working alone or with a mental health professional, The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety takes the reader on a journey and provides a straightforward roadmap with real-life examples, exercises and tools designed to strengthen and reinforce the reader's ability to deal with fear and reduce anxiety.

  10. One of the most difficult aspects of suffering with stress and anxiety is knowing where to start the process of learning to cope. In The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety, James Cowart provides an excellent point of reference to help you understand what will bring calm and composure back into your life.

    You will learn the fundamental reasons why anxiety is affecting you, and how your current coping skills can be improved, once you start to employ the ABCS method. Starting with an acceptance of the things you cannot control, you will learn how to become more resilient and stop the cycle of anxiety from perpetuating.

    In this incredibly helpful resource, James presents an abundance of techniques and methods to help guide you and provides log sheets to enable you to chart your journey along the way. Most especially, for those who are suffering with severe anxiety, such as OCD, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobias or PTSD, this book offers some really useful practical help and explanations. There are also case study examples of how the methods work, as well as the very helpful addition of information relating to the effects of anxiety, such as depression and anger.

    Having worked for 25 years with clients dealing with some of the difficulties explored in this book, I wish this resource had been available earlier as it would have been a well-used reference. I commend the author for his dedication in sharing his knowledge and I highly recommend The ABCS of Coping with Anxiety to students and fellow professionals alike.

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