Anxiety is something we all experience in our life at one time or another. Situations like public speaking, fear of rejection, or being assessed can make us anxious.
However, our coping skills and the intensity of the anxiety we experience can vary considerably. When anxiety interferes with our lives significantly, we call it an anxiety disorder.
I use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help address anxiety disorders. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are a mismatch between our assessment of how threatening certain situations are, and our beliefs about how well we’ll be able to cope with them. CBT helps by giving you tools to understand that situations that trigger your anxiety may not actually be as threatening as your brain is telling you, and (even if they are) by helping you develop the cognitive and emotional resources you need to cope successfully.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
The most common form is generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD can stop you from doing things that you otherwise would like to be able to do. This anxiety can grow and spread, making it difficult to do even simple, everyday things. It can interfere with your work, productivity and social life. Remember, anxiety always wants to take more space.
Anxiety treatment involves exposure exercises. During these exercises, I will ask you to experience things you are anxious about. As scary as it sounds, we will always go at a safe pace, and we’ll take several sessions to get ready before doing any exposure exercises. A few things to keep in mind about this kind of therapy:
- I will never ask you to do an exposure exercise if you are not ready
- All exposure exercises will be collaboratively planned in great detail
- By the time we try the exercise, you will have already learned coping skills
- We will always start small
Other forms of anxiety disorder
The treatment varies depending on the type of your anxiety. Other common variants of the anxiety disorder are obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder. Our approach in these cases is a little different from the techniques used for GAD. For example, it may be more helpful to start by addressing your thoughts about anxiety, rather than the anxious thoughts themselves.
Anxiety may often affect you on a physiological level and you may experience disturbing body sensation. This means that treatment often involves breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques.
Seeking therapy may itself be an anxiety-provoking experience. Sometimes the idea of engaging with your anxious thoughts can feel too overwhelming to contemplate. My role is to provide a safe, stable space where we can work through these thoughts together.