First posted at: https://surehopecounseling.com/2021/08/24/anxiety-therapy/
Attempting to control your anxiety, decrease worrisome and intrusive thoughts, and push against and conquer some of your fears can feel daunting. Yet, it is important to know that there are anxiety treatments to support those suffering from symptoms stemming from anxiety. Anxiety therapy helps clients uncover the deeper underlying causes of their worries and fears, learn how to reframe intrusive thoughts that feel overwhelming, and develop better coping and problem-solving skills. While anxiety medication can be a helpful addition to treatment, therapy gives clients the tools to decrease the severity of the anxiety and teaches clients how to use these tools in a meaningful and empowering way.
Anxiety disorders differ considerably, so therapy will be tailored versus implemented as a one-size-fits-all approach. As such, the length of therapy will also depend on the diagnosis and severity of the client’s symptoms and presenting issues. Yet, According to the American Psychological Association, many people improve significantly within 8 to 10 therapy sessions.
While there are many different types of therapy used to treat anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a highly used and effective approach when treating anxiety. CBT is the most widely-used therapy for anxiety disorders and research has shown it to be quite effective in treating panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. This approach addresses negative patterns of thinking and distortions that affect feelings and behaviors. This is a critical anxiety treatment approach as many people with anxiety disorders experience negative thoughts which fuel anxiety and fear. The premise around CBT is identifying and correcting the negative patterns of thinking which will directly impact and change thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Replacing negative thoughts with more realistic ones can be easier said than done. However, it is quite possible to change and experience the benefits of replacing negative thought patterns which are often steeped in lifelong patterns of thinking with more realistic and helpful thoughts. It takes identifying the thoughts and practicing challenging these thoughts which is a fundamental component of anxiety therapy, specifically CBT. A trained clinician will teach and support clients how to evaluate their intrusive and anxiety-provoking thoughts through various strategies such as questioning the evidence, and, while not limited to, testing out the reality of negative predictions. Identifying irrational and anxiety provoking thoughts can be very challenging, but clinicians can help clients work through the steps to ultimately address, challenge, and reframe these thoughts to be more realistic and manageable versus crushing and overwhelming.
While there is no quick fix for anxiety, anxiety therapy requires time and commitment. It can at first feel scary and exposing yet is very effective in the long run. To reap the benefits of anxiety therapy it is important for clients to lean into patience, productive consistency, and adherence to the treatment plan. This is a journey but the harvest at the end is worth it especially when it breeds feelings of empowerment, confidence, control, relaxation, and an increased positive mental outlook in everyday life. If you are feeling the weight of anxiety, remember that there is support and that you are not alone.