What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s alarm system. It is a combination of a rush of chemicals flooded through your body to protect you from actual and perceived threats. Symptoms include and are not limited to:
- Racing Heart
- Sweaty Palms
- Racing Thoughts
- Tingling Feeling Across the Body
- A Feeling of Going Crazy
Most people experience some level of anxiety in their lives and it can be helpful when alerting you to dangerous situations, however, there are some people who experience anxiety at more intense levels. This can be due to genetic or environmental factors or a combination of both. In the medical world, there are several subsets of anxiety disorders. When people have anxiety about most things it is typically called “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” and when people experience bouts of acute anxiety it is called “Panic Disorder”. Additionally, anxiety that arises in social situations is called “Social Anxiety Disorder”, and fear about specific situations or toward certain objects are called “Phobias”
How Can Therapy Help?
Therapy can be helpful for anxiety by first providing a space that normalizes the person’s experience of anxiety. Most people have a fear of “going crazy” or that they already are “crazy” and this is simply not true. Anxiety symptoms can create a vicious cycle of becoming anxious about something and then becoming anxious about being “anxious”. Traditional therapy assists by providing coping skills for managing that anxiety through the use of cognitive restructuring or identifying beliefs that are limiting and contributing to worsening the symptoms. Traditional therapy may also include a psychopharmacological approach for the most debilitating symptoms.
How Can I Help Specifically?
Most therapies focus primarily on the subjective symptoms of anxiety. This is a very valid approach and can have some success, however, the root causes are typically seen as unchangeable and the goal of traditional therapy is to simply “manage” symptoms. Therapy with me is focused not just on the symptoms, but on the relationship between yourself and your anxiety symptoms. As a marriage and family therapist, I understand uniquely the importance of relationship and anxiety is framed not as a debilitating symptom that one has no control over, but rather a completely logical response to an anxiety-provoking context. I will assist you in identifying the context (people, places, and things) where you tend to experience anxiety symptoms and provide you with a behavioral framework to respond differently to the context so that anxiety is no longer a part of the interaction. It is my belief that if you can change your behaviors, your feelings and emotions will follow. This in addition to providing you with coping skills for managing anxiety is the reason my clients succeed in reaching their goals. The goal is not to eliminate anxiety entirely, it is a useful and necessary survival mechanism, but whereas the anxiety dial may be turned up to 10 we work to get it down to a 2 or 3 so that you can make rational choices even in the face of fear and uncertainty. You can change anxiety-provoking situations and it doesn’t require you to be less anxious first. For more information or to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, please contact me here.