Therapy for Anxiety
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the fear of something bad happening. When you experience anxiety, your body enters “fight or flight” mode as it prepares to meet the threat: your heart rate and breathing speed up, your muscles tense, and you may feel faint or dizzy. You feel scared, fearful and often helpless. Cognitively, you may have trouble focusing on anything other than what you’re worrying about.
You might have heard about different ‘types’ of anxiety. Some common labels are:
Specific phobia (anxiety about a particular situation such as heights, needles or spiders)
Social anxiety disorder (anxiety about being in social situations)
Panic disorder (anxiety that comes out of nowhere and results in intense physical symptoms)
Agoraphobia (anxiety about bad outcomes that might occur if you were to leave your home/safe place)
Generalized anxiety disorder (anxiety about multiple topics)
As this suggests, in today’s world we have a great deal to be anxious about: work, loved ones, our hopes and dreams, financial security, the climate crisis…you name it. The good news is that anxiety is not a bad thing in and of itself. Anxiety signals that there is something of value to you - we are not anxious about people or topics we don’t care about. At manageable levels, anxiety can also be motivating. We probably wouldn’t file our taxes on time or look both ways before crossing the street if we were completely free from anxiety.
However, anxiety becomes a problem when it builds to such excessive levels that it limits us. At high levels, anxiety can send us running for shelter to self medicate (e.g., alcohol, substances, Netflix, shopping) and avoid our problems instead of working through what we are concerned about. (Imagine your anxiety as a fire alarm: avoidance is dealing with the situation by turning off the alarm or leaving the house, whereas approaching or working through anxiety is putting out the fire.) Avoidance works in the moment, but it doesn’t address the underlying concern and thus the anxiety comes back…with interest.
If we work together, we will use your anxiety as a ‘signal’ to help you discover what you value and how to move closer to what you want. We will approach your anxiety to learn more about what you fear and thus what you value, and how your patterns may be standing in the way of living the meaningful life you want to live. As we explore and disentangle your patterns (put out the fire), your anxiety will decrease (the fire alarm will turn off). We will also validate your fear and your experience of being in this world, as many anxieties are quite reasonable and you may have to befriend them rather than completely get rid of them.
People who are interested in therapy for anxiety are likely interested in individual therapy.
You can also learn more about what to expect from therapy for anxiety by exploring the types of therapy we offer:
Who Can Benefit From Therapy for Anxiety?
Anyone who is anxious can benefit from anxiety therapy! Therapy for anxiety is an excellent way to learn to listen to the ‘signal’ of anxiety and in so doing reduce the ‘noise’ it generates in your life. Therapy for anxiety is of most benefit to people who notice that they spend a great deal of their time worrying, have the time and space available to explore this experience, and are willing to tolerate temporarily increased anxiety in the service of long term anxiety reduction as we approach your anxiety instead of avoiding it.
What are the Benefits of Therapy for Anxiety?
Therapy for anxiety will help you explore and process your anxiety so that you can focus on what matters. After therapy for anxiety, clients typically report worrying less and being better able to handle the uncertainty inherent in everyday living. This will free you up to pursue your life goals and enjoy being in the moment.
Therapeutic Approach for Therapy for Anxiety
If we work together, I will develop a customized treatment plan for you based on your needs and preferences. I draw mostly from Emotion Focused Therapy, which involves working together to access your painful feelings so that we can explore and resolve them. (A common EFT saying is “you have to go to a place in order to leave it.”) In EFT, anxiety is most often seen as a “secondary” (surface) emotion that covers up more painful primary (core) emotions that we will need to explore and resolve such as terror, anger or sadness. I also draw heavily on Narrative Therapy, which privileges the client’s knowledge and expertise, and supports clients to rewrite the stories that larger entities and systems may have authored.
You can learn more about what to expect from therapy for anxiety by exploring the types of therapy we offer:
Book A Free Anxiety Therapy Consultation
Please use the contact form below to get in touch if you would like to book a free initial 20 minute conversation about therapy for anxiety or to ask any questions. I welcome questions and comments from folks at all stages of their journey, whether you’re researching options, curious about therapy, or ready to book an appointment.