How is anxiety treated in psychotherapy?

Anxiety problems are one of the most common psychological problems among the population and are estimated to be present as an anxiety disorder in around 5% of the population in Western countries.

That is why, for decades, psychologists have devoted much of our work to the development and application of effective anxiety treatment methods.

Throughout this article, we will see, in a few words, how anxiety is treated in psychotherapy, The different ways in which psychologists help patients who present with this type of discomfort.

    What forms can anxiety problems take?

    Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state that is expressed in different ways, although they all have something in common: it appears as an anticipatory reaction to possible sources of danger or risk of losing something.

    It is a phenomenon present in all healthy individuals and which in most cases is adaptive (i.e. useful for our ability to survive by adapting to the environment), but which can sometimes be seen involved in psychopathologies or even physical illnesses.

    In fact, anxiety is associated to a greater or lesser extent with much of the psychological disorder which appear in the most used diagnostic manuals. However, sometimes the anxious component is so central to the emergence of psychopathology that it is seen as the main driver of it. In these cases, we are talking about anxiety disorders.

    The most important anxiety disorders are:

    • phobias
    • Generalized anxiety disorder
    • Panic disorder
    • Separation anxiety disorder

    On the other hand, other disorders closely related to anxiety are obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and addictions. In all these cases, the problem or a large part of it has to do with the behavior patterns the person adopts to alleviate the discomfort anxiety; strategies that work more or less in the short term, but which are made worse by the situation in the medium or long term.

    For example, in the case of spider phobia, the fact that we have become accustomed to running away quickly when we encounter these animals will make us more used to this type of reaction in us, and anticipatory anxiety is bigger. Something similar happens in all disorders associated with anxiety because they are based on anticipating what is going to happen.

    How is it treated in therapy?

    These are the key ideas for understanding how anxiety treatment works.

    1. It’s a gradual process

    There is no magic solution to eliminating anxiety problems overnight. The psychotherapeutic process lasts between several weeks and several months, And requires consistency in the conduct of sessions with the psychologist.

    2. You have to deal with what generates anxiety

    All forms of therapy for overcoming anxiety are based on “learning” ways to deal with what makes us anxious, without letting it take control of our actions. Therefore, it is about getting used to enduring a certain level of discomfort or emotional distress for a few minutesSo what psychologists are watching and helping to make it easier.

      3. There are beliefs to correct

      Many times part of what keeps the anxiety disorder alive is a dysfunctional belief system, Which gives more reasons to live this state of vigilance and anticipation. In psychotherapy, the context is created for patients to challenge these preconceptions.

      4. There are routines that help manage anxiety

      On another side, there are a number of preventive measures that help patients prepare for to adequately manage times when anxiety increases a lot. These have to do with maintaining good physical and mental health, on the one hand, and learning certain techniques for learning to relax at key times, on the other hand.

      Tools used in psychotherapy to overcome anxiety

      These are the main therapeutic resources used to treat anxiety problems.

      1. Systematic desensitization and similar methods

      Systematic desensitization is a series of procedures aimed at helping the person get used to what is causing the anxiety, by coping with it associate it with a calm or neutral emotional state. These are done on an ascending difficulty curve, so patients can go from the easiest experiences to the most anxious ones.

      There are a number of similar intervention methods that also pursue this goal, the most important of which is controlled exposure and EMDR therapy.

      2. Cognitive restructuring

      Cognitive restructuring is a series of techniques belonging to cognitive behavioral therapy, which aim to help patients break free from maladaptive beliefs and which are involved in maintaining the disorder.

      3. Mindfulness

      Mindfulness is a psychological state characterized by directing attention to the present, observing with an accepting perspective of imperfections.

      It draws on ancient meditation practices, although it does not have the religious implications of these, and is used for therapeutic purposes in various contexts: psychotherapy, corporate work, sport, etc. Among others, helps get rid of psychological rumination, that is, intrusive ideas or thoughts and disruptors that appear again and again in our consciousness.

      4. Relaxation techniques

      Relaxation techniques aim to dispel the anxiety of practices that alter the state of the body from an emotional and physiological point of view. The best known are Jacobson’s controlled breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation.

      Are you interested in getting professional help for anxiety?

      If you have an anxiety-related problem and seek professional help, Cepsim Psychological Center We invite you to contact us.

      Our team of psychologists have training, experience and mastery of the most effective techniques and methods to treat a wide variety of psychological disorders: stress at work, partner problems, phobias, generalized anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress, problems torque, etc. . We serve both our head office located in Madrid and via the online mode.

      To see more information about the Cepsim Psychological Center, you can visit this page.

      Bibliographical references:

      • American Psychiatric Association -APA- (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.
      • Hofmann SG, Dibartolo PM (2010). Introduction: Towards an Understanding of Social Anxiety Disorder. Social anxiety.
      • Otte, C. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in anxiety disorders: current state of the evidence. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. 13 (4): pages 413 to 421.
      • Rynn, MA; Brawman-Mintzer, O. (2004). Generalized anxiety disorder: acute and chronic treatment. CNS spectra. 9 (10): pages 716-723.
      • Sylvers, P .; Lilienfeld, SO; LaPrairie, JL (2011). Differences between fear and anxiety about traits: implications for psychopathology. Journal of clinical psychology. 31 (1): pages 122 to 137.

      Leave a Comment