Does Anxiety Therapy Work?

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Short answer: yes. 😀Now for those interested in knowing the how and why…

As an anxiety therapist, I hear all kinds of questions early in the therapy process. 

“Why do I sometimes feel worse after I leave a therapy session?”

“What do you mean I made really good progress today?” 

“How does sitting and talking about my problems in therapy help?”

Here’s the thing. Therapy doesn’t always work the same way. It’s different for everyone. It’s a dynamic process. Scientific studies consistently show that behavioral and emotional interventions work as well, if not better, than medication to treat anxiety, depression, and anxiety disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and phobias.

So why does therapy get a bad rap? Well, if someone is feeling anxious and finally decides to reach out for help with anxiety and has a bad experience, it’s only natural for them to assume therapy doesn’t work. Or therapy is a waste of time. Or therapists are weird. Let’s be honest though, some are!

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Not what you’re looking for in a therapist?

But when you think about it, this assumption is a bit strange. If you go visit the dentist and have a bad experience, you don’t automatically assume dentistry doesn’t “work.” No, you go find a better dentist. But many don’t approach therapy with the same mindset.

What is Anxiety Therapy?

Anxiety therapy is a scientifically proven process that can help teach you how your mind works. It can help you learn to navigate your feelings, build better behaviors, and relate to your thoughts differently so you can live the kind of life you want. Anxiety therapists who use clinically-proven modalities like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) work with you to set goals, track progress, and measure results. You can learn skills to build emotional resilience so you can eventually leave therapy and manage your anxiety on your own.

Therapy is a high-value investment in yourself, not an expense. Viewing therapy as an expense is dangerous and will likely result in minimal short term results.

What does anxiety therapy look like?

Anxiety therapy provides a safe space to talk freely and process your emotions. A good therapist does more than just make you feel heard without being judged. A good therapist looks for unhelpful thought patterns and blind spots in your thinking. A great therapist teaches you ways to identify these patterns of thinking and blind spots on your own.

Then you can begin to learn new skills and tools to manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and align them with your goals and values. It’s kind of like the old saying, Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Now do you see the difference between investment and expense?

What does success in anxiety therapy look like?

Often, success in therapy means your symptoms have improved. You’re accomplishing your goals and you feel better – less anxious, more focused and present. Maybe you went to see an anxiety therapist for social anxiety and now you’re attending more social events. Maybe you’re finally dipping your toe in online dating.

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Success in therapy looks different for many but ultimately results in a more fulfilling life.

Maybe you attended anxiety therapy for chronic worry that was interfering in all aspects of your life. Now you feel lighter, more fulfilled and less tired, irritable, and fatigued.

Anxiety disorders are very treatable. The majority of clients who suffer from anxiety are able to reduce or eliminate symptoms after several (or fewer) months of psychotherapy, and many clients notice improvement after just a few sessions. Just because you may have had a bad experience in therapy doesn’t mean therapy doesn’t work. It may just mean it didn’t work with that therapist. Find another one. Life is too short to suffer.

 

Are you struggling with anxiety, depression, grief, or relationship problems in Greater New Haven? We can help. Contact us today for a free consultation. We promise; we’re not weird – sort of! 😉

 

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists take control and move From Surviving to Thriving.