Therapy for Anxiety

Types of Therapy for Anxiety

There are several types of therapy available to address anxiety problems. The success of any treatment depends on the intensity of a person's anxiety, and if they have co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse or depression.

The types of counseling below are known to treat anxiety and may be used in combination. They are recommended by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA).

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

What we think about has a great deal to do with how we feel. CBT is focused on thought patterns that contribute to anxiety, and on creating healthier ways of thinking. The benefits of CBT are experienced within 12 to 16 weeks by many individuals.

Clients are taught skills during treatment sessions which they are asked to practice between meetings. The therapist frequently gives homework assignments such as reading recommended material, keeping a record of thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, and completing worksheets.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy gradually brings clients into contact with their feared object or situation. This allows the individual to become less sensitive, or de-sensitized, to what they are afraid of. This behavioral treatment is frequently used to address phobias.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Anxiety is reduced when people have the skills to navigate life successfully. DBT is a combination of individual and group counseling. It teaches clients the skills needed to get what they need and want, to accept that change occurs, and manage change when it comes. This therapy requires a commitment of 6 months to 1 year.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Anxiety levels are altered when people can cope with undesirable feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations. ACT helps people by teaching acceptance, mindfulness (awareness of the present moment), and behavior changes that help clients navigate life more comfortably. Clients are asked to commit themselves to the therapy process.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

If the intensity of disturbing thoughts is reduced, so is a person's anxiety. Rapid eye movements influence how our brain processes information. EMDR therapists direct the client's eye movements, allowing clients to review upsetting situations with less distress. It is often used to alleviate panic attacks, phobias, and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

When an individual's interpersonal life improves, their anxiety level is often reduced. IPT is a short-term therapy that focuses on people's interpersonal issues associated with depression. Less stress in relationships translates into less anxiety. This is a supportive treatment requiring 12 to 16 sessions.


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