Although anxiety is one of the best-known psychological disorders, the truth is that anxiety itself is still very unknown to many people. By this we mean that everyone knows about its existence, but there are still many people who do not know what it is, when it becomes a problem, what are the main anxiety disorders and, most importantly, not yet. it is known what is done in therapy to work anxiety or what is the role of the psychologist.
For this reason, in today’s post we are going to talk about all this and, among other things, we will try to clarify the main doubts about what is done in therapy.
INDEX OF CONTENTS
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Pathological or normal anxiety
I always tell my patients that anxiety, in its proper measure, is normal, healthy, and helps us survive. I usually give the example that if I meet a lion in the jungle and I don’t have anxiety, I won’t run away and the lion will eat me. With this example I want to emphasize the value of anxiety and that because it helps us survive, the goal of therapy will never be to eliminate anxiety completely.
What we will learn in therapy, among other things, is to know when that anxiety is getting out of control and becoming pathological in order to implement certain techniques and thus lower it.
Broadly speaking, we could say that anxiety is pathological when it limits us in our daily lives.
Let’s give an example to understand it better: imagine that you have an important exam for your career. If you have normal anxiety you will be more activated than usual, your hands will sweat a little or you will even have difficulty falling asleep the day before. However, if the anxiety is pathological, you will not sleep for days, you will have appetite problems, you could suffer from dizziness or you could even avoid taking the exam to avoid all this discomfort. In this case, anxiety would be limiting you, since it would not allow you to take the exam in a healthy way.
Related to the above, it is relevant to know what are the manifestations of anxiety in the body in order to give them the attention they deserve.
Major anxiety disorders
As we have already commented in other articles that we have worked on anxiety, there are different anxiety disorders. According to the latest diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2013) these are:
- separation anxiety disorder
- selective mutism
- Social anxiety disorder also known as social phobia
- panic disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Likewise, in the past, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was also included within anxiety disorders. Nor can we forget about the disorders included in the category “trauma-related disorders and stressors” such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder, or adjustment disorder. Likewise, we would also include others such as illness anxiety disorder.
When is it necessary to do therapy for anxiety?
From our point of view, when anxiety makes you avoid situations and interferes with your daily life, it is a good time to start therapy. It is true that on the internet you can find different strategies to deal with it. Even so, if these strategies are not enough, you will most likely need the help of a professional.
Cognitive-behavioral psychological therapy (CBT) has proven to be effective for the treatment of this disorder. For example, a meta-analysis published in 2019 by Van Dis et al showed that it has very good long-term results.
In summary, if anxiety limits you and makes areas as important as work, social, family, leisure, etc. are affected is a good time to ask for help.
Skills of the psychologist for the treatment of anxiety
There are different currents and all of them put into practice different techniques and strategies. We are going to speak from the perspective of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), since, as we have seen, it is effective and it is what we practice. The techniques that psychologists usually use to treat anxiety are the following:
- Psychoeducation. In order for the person to understand what anxiety is, what is the difference between normal and pathological anxiety, the systems that operate anxiety, what can we do to reduce this anxiety, etc.
- Relaxation and breathing techniques. Breathing techniques, relaxation, meditation, etc. They have proven to be effective for the treatment of different anxiety disorders. So the psychologist will teach the patient those that can best meet her needs.
- Cognitive restructuring. In order to work on obsessive, anticipatory or negative thoughts, cognitive restructuring is used. Broadly speaking, we could say that the objective of this is to restructure or modify the thought looking for healthier thoughts.
- Cognitive biases and irrational beliefs. Knowledge of both the main cognitive biases and the irrational beliefs formulated by Albert Ellis will help the patient to combat negative thoughts.
- Social skills. In the case of social anxiety or in the event that the anxiety has produced social impairment, communication skills and social skills will be taught.
- Exposure with prevention of response. If you have a phobia or avoid certain situations, this technique will be worked on, which aims to expose you progressively and with the help of the therapist to different situations.
- Conflict resolution training. Running away from conflicts is usually not a good option. Therefore, learning how to deal with them is essential.
It is important to keep in mind that a good psychologist must have the necessary skills to carry out a good evaluation and analyze the needs of each patient. Only in this way will the therapy be effective and satisfactory in both the short and long term.
Likewise, in terms of therapeutic skills, every psychologist should have empathy, listen actively, accept the patient and not judge him, be cordial, etc.
What can I expect from anxiety therapy.
It will depend on each specific case. Even so, We could say that anxiety therapy will help you control pathological anxiety and prevent it from affecting or limiting the different areas of the person’s functioning. In addition, it will also mean great growth and development on a personal level.
At PsicoGlobal, pioneers in online therapy, we are specialists in the treatment of anxiety. Therefore, if you have any questions, we recommend that you contact us or leave us a comment.
Remember that online therapy can be a great option for the treatment of these disorders.
- American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (5th ed.). Washington, DC.
- Van Dis, EA M, Van Veen, SC, Hagenaars, M. A,. et al. (2019). Long-term Outcomes of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety-Related Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry, 77(3), 265–273. Recovered from jamanetwork.com