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Types of Anxiety Therapies

Mar 17, 2023 | Anxiety, Therapy

Key Takeaways:

  • “Mental Health Therapy” is a broad term that incorporates many different and unique approaches to working with people on social, emotional and behavioral issues.
  • Different therapists are trained and/or have experience with different modalities, and some even use an approach that combines a few types.
  • Most therapists will use a variety of techniques to help you understand and manage anxious symptoms, and most importantly, to help you make changes that can improve your quality of life and life satisfaction.

The world wide web, and specifically WebMD, have made learning new words to describe individual experiences of health and lack thereof much more accessible. However, with this uptick in access to knowledge, comes the challenge of sifting through copious amounts of general information and hoping that something sticks. This blog post is intended to provide specific information about various therapies for Anxiety Disorders with the hope this can help you on your journey to more wellness.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This modality has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders by numerous studies. The underlying theory posits that feelings impact thoughts and thoughts impact behaviors. If the client can become more aware of their feelings through mindfulness and other regulatory techniques, they can identify negative thoughts which lead them to negative behavior patterns. Knowing what you think and how you think in certain situations can give you an option to make different choices – for example in how you handle stress, relationships, and other anxious moments.

For example, if a client is habitually ignoring text messages from their mother, a CBT clinician might ask “when you receive a text message from this person, what thought comes to mind?” The client might share a thought such as “my mother asks so much of me, I will never be enough for her.” This thought might lead to feelings of resentment and withdrawal that discourage the client to respond to the text. The work of the client will be around understanding how this negative thought has developed, build self awareness of how feelings impact thoughts and behaviors, and learn to challenge behaviors that we feel stuck in. Ultimately, therapy will ask the client to consider: “what’s another way I can respond to my mother? Can I ask her to be less demanding? Can I let her know that part of the reason I don’t always respond is because she can be demanding? Or maybe I can seek help from other, more empathetic people.”

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is part of a larger clinical framework called Psychoanalytic Theory. It places an emphasis on the suffering of an individual due to things they are not aware of; what we call unconscious experiences (sometimes called “subconscious” in everyday speech). In Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, the work of the client is examining and exploring their self awareness and the ways in which their past experiences and relationships are shaping their present behaviors.

For example, a psychodynamic therapist will ask the client to reflect “what does your current situation remind you of?” “If you are feeling anxious, what other anxious experiences have you had and what can we learn from how you learned to deal with them?” Most of the time, our coping skills are things we have learned from our families, communities and past experiences. Psychodynamic therapy aims to help the person understand themselves and their history, and use this knowledge to inform what they can change in the present, so they can live a more satisfying, adaptive life.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

This modality entails introducing the client to mindful practices (meditation, gentle movements, body scans, etc) that encourage and enhance self awareness and focus in the present moment. Mindfulness is also a component of the CBT and DBT modalities. Mindfulness aims to help the person be aware of themselves and their choices – “how am I dealing with this present moment and what can I do to help myself?”

Solutions Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT is exactly what it sounds like – a modality that focuses on solutions over problems and encourages the client to use positivity and a future orientation to approach their present challenges. Most therapists will strive to 1) recognize the reality of the client’s struggles, but balance that with the 2) options and possibilities for growth that are often also worth striving for.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

MI is a process of understanding where the client is with their own motivation to enact change in their life. While people come to therapy hoping to make changes in their life, a significant number of those people have not truly grappled with what their role in this change will be. Motivational Interviewing assists the clinician in understanding where the client is in their desire to change, and helps the client reflect on the same. Sometimes the person may recognize a problem but is not ready to change right away. Therapists patiently work with clients to help them understand the barriers and reservations that get in the way. For example, therapists may ask, “what about changing is making you anxious? If we can understand why you feel anxious, you might be able to reassure yourself and be more prepared to overcome the adverse situation more effectively.”

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) –

DBT is well known for its accompanying “Skills Training” manual that walks the client through a series of emotional regulation techniques and exercises. DBT is considered a “best practice” modality for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), suicidal ideation (SI), and self harming behaviors. It is also helpful for managing intense emotional responses, including those associated with anxiety.

Some people come to therapy with some basic skills for managing their emotions, they may already have an idea of how to calm themselves down when feeling overwhelmed. But many times, people strive to learn these affect regulation skills (emotion regulation) in the context of a helpful therapy relationship.

At Start My Wellness, we have clinicians that have experience in these therapeutic modalities and are trained to help you develop a treatment plan that meets your specific needs and goals.

Dr. Anton Babushkin

Author: Anton Babushkin, PhD

Looking for a Therapist? Start My Wellness has highly experienced Licensed Therapists that are currently accepting new patients.


Blog Posts Tags: Anxiety | CBT | DBT
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