Therapy for Anxiety: Find calmness, peace of mind and less stress.
We are committed to treating anxiety disorders and stress management issues efficiently and effectively in psychotherapy. Our anxiety treatment features a range of cognitive behavioral, experiential, and psychodynamic therapy techniques to help patients better understand and manage their anxiety in the frame of a supportive relationship.
Comprehensive Anxiety Treatment
Anxiety can be present in a variety of forms – cognitive, affective, physiological, and social/relational– and all four areas are interrelated.
Anxiety can involve general worry about a variety of issues, such as in the case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Often worry is repetitive, such as in the case of obsessive or ruminative thinking. In other cases, worry is contextual, such as with specific phobias. People have anxiety about all kinds of issues, such as identity, family, relationships, work, illness or death.
Runaway emotions have a way of taking on a life of their own. In his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman refers to this as “amygdala hijack.” When our feelings of worry take over our brain, everything gets sped up, including our bodies. Did you know that neurological signals from our emotional brain (e.g. amygdala) travel faster than our rational brain (e.g. frontal lobe)? For this reason, working with feelings – and their somatic or bodily expressions – are central to good therapeutic work.
Some people primarily experience their anxiety or stress in their bodies. For example, a frequently known expression of physiological anxiety is a panic attack, which can often feel like it is coming out of nowhere. In all actuality it isn’t, and part of our work is teaching clients to recognize anxiety cues earlier in the process.
We believe so strongly in the relationship between mind and body that we have created an entire section under ‘Psychosomatic Disorders’ to describe these types of issues and their presentations. We encourage you to read more there. It is important to note, however, that just as the body can be an outlet of anxiety and stress, it can also be the first line of recovery. Creating positive sensation and experience in the body is an important way of building relaxation and emotional mastery.
Social anxiety pertains to anxiety that manifests in a relational context. In this respect, anxiety responses manifest in an intepersonal context. These cues become generalized and exacerbated over time. It is like a negative ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. Some people who struggle with social anxiety are dispositionally introverted and very shy. However, this in and of itself does not cause or lead to social anxiety. In fact, there are many positive relational aspects of introversion. On the other hand, someone who is not naturally comfortable with relational interactions may be more likely to repeat and generalize negative social experiences and responses.
Our Approach to Treating Anxiety
We draw upon several treatment philosophies in treating anxiety. Anxiety is often a symbolic expression of deeper ‘unconscious’ and/or existential psychological themes. Helping our patients understand and work through these themes can create lasting change.
However, it is difficult to do this type of mentally intensive work in a stimulated state. As a result, our therapists draw upon principles from clinical hypnosis, mindfulness, and other therapeutic techniques to help our clients learn and internalize calm, relaxation, and well-being.
We believe that utilizing imagery, breathing, and focused attention to build positive physiological calm in the body is a great first step. From there, we introduce cognitive and behavioral methods to help our patients hierarchically face their fears using imaginative techniques in a way that feels manageable.
Finally, we believe in the importance of creating a solid, attuned therapeutic alliance grounded in secure attachment. This relational approach builds trust and safety and creates the necessary foundation to make progress in treating and improving anxiety symptoms.