Q & A: Yoga-Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

For which psychological issues is  Y-CBT  best suited?

The model was designed to address symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder.  As we developed the program, we paid very close attention to the specific physical symptoms of anxiety (heart rate, shaking, muscle tension, nausea etc) and the cognitive symptoms (rumination, worry, cognitive thought distortions, negative self talk).

Because people who struggle with anxiety experience both physical and cognitive symptoms, which trigger each other in problematic cycles, we sought to develop a model which would target both the physical and cognitive symptoms simultaneously.

In other words, symptoms of anxiety are a mind/body experience, and so we moved forward with the rationale that for most effective relief, the treatment needed to address the problem with mind/body solutions.

While we primarily targeted symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, our research has shown that group participants with symptoms of depression and panic have also shown improvement. We believe that this is true because there is an overlap in cognitive and physical symptoms across multiple diagnoses.

For example, people who struggle with depression, often experience symptoms in line with GAD or even Panic Disorder. And self value is certainly a challenge faced by people managing depression.

Also worth noting is that the original model is designed for an adult population. An adaptation specifically for teens is well underway and will be piloted this spring/summer in both our clinic and a local group practice.

We are also looking to bring the adult model to seniors and these efforts are also underway.

Where is Y-CBT currently being used?

Y-CBT groups are being offered in multiple programs across Riverside Community Care’s large service network in eastern Massachusetts, including several Outpatient Centers, Day Treatment Programs and residential programs.

It is also being offered in a private practice setting in our area. We have also trained many clinicians from other New England organizations and it is likely that many clinicians are using the techniques with their individual clients as well.

Are there future research plans for Y-CBT? Areas for further investigation?

Our research is very promising. We have one published study, that showed significant reductions in anxiety and depression (Khalsa, Greiner-Ferris, Hoffman & Khalsa, 2015).

We have another study in process that examined the effects of Y-CBT for those who suffer with anxiety, along with other diagnoses.

Our preliminary results show that the six week Y-CBT program significantly reduced anxiety for those diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD. The effect sizes for these results were in the large range. We hope to complete the writing of this article this spring and publish the results sometime later this year or early next year.

We have three current research initiatives, which are beginning this spring and will be conducted at Riverside Community Care. We have a controlled study in process, which we hope to finish in 2017. We are also about to begin testing the teen model; and, we’ve begun to contact senior centers to offer services to and research the effects of Y-CBT with the senior population who live in the community.

 Is there anything more you’d like to share with readers about the model?

As far as we know, Y-CBT is the only treatment model for anxiety that combines traditional psychological techniques with yoga, and which is available in a manualized, researched and published form.

 The model and the training are very clinician friendly. Y-CBT has a 22 hour training, complete with small group instruction. Soon, we plan to offer a detailed manual for group leaders, which will be available to clinicians along with a CD including the PowerPoint presentation that is used in each group. There is also a participant manual available for the Y-CBT group members.

Although designed as a group model, many of the techniques are applicable to individual practice. Y-CBT trained clinicians tell us they frequently use specific Y-CBT techniques with their clients in individual therapy.

Y-CBT is also know as YogaCBT. Their book, The YogaCBT Workbook for Anxiety, is due out in June 2017, (New Harbinger Publications.)

To find out more about Y-CBT trainings, visit the Y-CBT website:

Yoga image available from Shutterstock

Q & A: Yoga-Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Jessica Dore

Jessica Dore is a behavioral science and spirituality writer with several years of experience in clinical psychology publishing. She blogs weekly about tarot cards and psychology on her website In her free time, she is a devoted ashtanga yoga practitioner, food enthusiast, and DJ. Follow her on twitter @realJessicaDore.


APA Reference
Dore, J. (2016). Q & A: Yoga-Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 10, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Apr 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Apr 2016
Published on All rights reserved.