Treatment for anxiety – What works?
Psychological treatment for anxiety problems
People’s experiences of problematic anxiety can be so varied and there is no one single approach that suits everyone. Part of our job as psychologists is to listen to you and together work out which of the available treatments are most likely to be helpful for you.
Here’s a list of psychological therapies we offer at the Northwest Psychology Practice. Each one has been researched and shown to be effective.
In this type of therapy we focus on the way you’ve been thinking. People who experience severe anxiety often find themselves thinking about bad things that they fear might happen in the future. Cognitive therapy helps you to evaluate your scary thoughts and to look at whether the thoughts are realistic and helpful.
Behavioural therapy (or ‘exposure therapy’)
Behavioural therapy focuses on helping you to gradually face your fears and reduce your avoidance. You stay long enough to see what happens, not just believing what your anxious mind predicts. This can be a challenging thing to do but it’s also an extremely powerful way of changing the way in which anxiety is controlling your life.
Mindfulness techniques such as noticing, slowing breathing down, being in the present, not continually trying to predict the future and answer the ‘what if’ questions have been shown to really help change the way you react to your worried thoughts. Mindfulness usually involves practicing meditation and ‘staying in the present moment’.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
ACT focuses on helping you take action towards living a rich and meaningful life. Often our anxious thoughts, or worried feelings and anxiety symptoms, can get in the way of doing what is important. ACT helps you to notice and allow the full range of thoughts, feelings and sensations without letting those experiences determine your actions. We are not trying to change your thinking, just help you to be more aware of it and choose actions that are meaningful rather than reactionary or avoidant to your thoughts, feelings or sensations.
Medical treatments for anxiety
There are several medical treatments for anxiety – the most common of these is medication. Some people find medication helpful, while others have difficulties with it. One thing it’s important to mention at this point is that as psychologists we are not able to prescribe medication, nor are we qualified to give any advice on the topic. The decision of whether or not to take medication is a very individual one and needs to be decided in conjunction with your GP or psychiatrist.
We find that the most powerful change happens when psychological and medical treatments are complementary and we are all working as a team. We therefore aim to be in contact with your doctor, or other health professionals, to work towards a shared understanding of the problems and a collaborative treatment approach.