Specialized Therapy for Anxiety
We all experience fear and anxiety. These emotions are part of being human and can be helpful. Fear can alert us to imminent danger and prepare us to cope with it (i.e., fight-flight-or-freeze), and anxiety can help us anticipate and prevent future threats. But sometimes these emotions become excessive and unhelpful - especially when they interfere with our lives and lead us to miss out on things we care about.
Maybe these emotions have become excessive and unhelpful for you. You wouldn't be alone, as nearly 30% of people will meet criteria for an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Maybe you fear specific objects or situations (Specific Phobias), social or performance situations (Social Anxiety Disorder), the uncomfortable physical sensations of fear (Panic Disorder), not being able to escape specific situations (Agoraphobia), or catching a serious disease (Illness Anxiety Disorder). Maybe you worry about a lot of different things (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), or maybe you identify with several of these fears (that's common, too). Fortunately, effective therapy exists for excessive, unhelpful anxiety and with specialized treatment tailored to your specific fears, you are likely to improve.
"One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again."
CBT for Anxiety
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) assumes that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interrelated and that changing one element produces changes in another. Thus, CBT aims to improve our mental health and well-being by changing the way we think, feel, and behave. Some examples include:
Someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder learns to problem-solve instead of worrying, which reduces anxiety.
Someone with Panic Disorder learns to reinterpret panic sensations, making them less bothersome.
Someone with Social Anxiety Disorder learns to approach instead of avoid feared situations, improving their self-confidence.
A particularly important element of CBT for anxiety is learning to approach what you tend to avoid (i.e., exposure therapy). Doing this will teach you new things about your fears (e.g., they often don't come true) and your ability to cope (e.g., even if your fears do come true, you can handle them). It also empowers you to do what you want to do - no matter what anxiety has to say about it.
ACT for Anxiety
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that helps you learn to stop battling with anxious thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Fighting with this stuff not only magnifies your emotional pain, but also limits what you do and how you live your life.
ACT compliments traditional CBT by adding mindfulness and acceptance skills, which will help you gain psychological distance from unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and sensations. You'll learn to experience this stuff as passing experiences (like clouds in the sky) and not as things that you HAVE to attend to or do something about. Instead, you will have the space to choose what you want to do and to reduce the pain that the struggle with anxious thoughts, feelings, and sensations creates.