Therapy for Anxiety

There are two important things to know about psychotherapy for anxiety. One, it is effective. I enjoy treating anxiety because the positive outcomes tend to come faster and more often. The other thing however is that it is not easy. If any therapist tells you that psychotherapy for anxiety is comfortable, your next question can be, “for how many decades?”

In short, the more you are willing to do what is uncomfortable, the sooner you can come through your anxiety.

We avoid the things that make us anxious, and we become anxious about the things we avoid. While the details might be complex and varied, the process of getting past anxiety involves the practice of exposing yourself to what you fear, and desensitizing yourself to it. Whether it is generalized anxiety, phobias, post-traumatic stress or obsessive-compulsive disorder, we’ll work to decrease your avoidance, increase exposure (a favored jargon word in my profession), and improve tolerance at first, then comfort.

The therapy is all done in stages, and the successes you experience along the way will fuel your confidence for the next step.

In addition to exposure, we discuss the ways in which you manage stress and the negative arousal that comes with anxiety. We talk about the process of your thinking. Anxious people tend to overestimate risks, overestimate their severity and to underestimate our own coping ability. We’ll explore, for example, what could happen if your worst fears came to pass. We can go over the ways in which you may be making automatic distorted assumptions, and ways in which you can challenge these assumptions to lower your anxiety.

Some ask if I perform EMDR or “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing”. This is a brand of therapy in which the counselor waves his or her fingers to have you move your eyes back and forth as you talk about traumatic experiences. It has a great sales and marketing department and they’re as well-established in Seattle as anywhere. Overall, it actually works. But the best description on the research verdict was stated by James Herbert: "What is new is not effective, and what is effective is not new”.

For more, see the Anxiety section in Ask the Therapist.

Questions? Call or email.

Tom Linde M.S.W.
PO Box 28186
Seattle, WA 981189
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