Did you know that anxiety is considered to be one of the most treatable conditions in therapy? Many clients present with concerns about anxiety. Relief from anxiety symptoms is often use as a marker for successful therapeutic outcome. Yet each person is unique and there are many ways anxiety can be experienced and expressed, ranging from mild stress responses in adjusting to new or difficult circumstances to extreme physiological patterned responses to earlier trauma(s). We take a trauma informed approach, assessing the nature of the concern thoroughly before making a therapy plan. We are trained to understand how thoughts, emotion, physiology and neurobiology, and environment or systems interact to create issues people bring to therapy. Typically when anxiety is present there is some focus on a cognitive behavioral intervention to help alleviate distress, teach new coping responses to stress however we also pay attention to systemic or environmental issues, historic experiences and lifestyle variables that may be part of the problem or challenge a persons' efforts to change.
A common form of anxiety that causes a lot of distress if Obsessional anxiety. Being obsessional can be a factor of personality, a response to traumatic events, or a diagnosable anxiety condition. Depending on the history/source and nature of the problem, treatment also varies. When there is a genetic predisposition to diagnosable OCD people can often recall that their parent did a lot of what is called “checking behavior”. While it may not have interfered directly with their lives, they may have been plagued with constant worry that led them to check and re-check things like locks, bank accounts, cleanliness, etc. The checking behavior provides some kind of short term relief of the fear but research shows that it also creates long term pain, in creating more and more obsessions and fears. When there is a genetic predisposition, sometimes medication can help along side therapy. This is well known in the mental health field. Often a person is given cognitive behavioral treatment and tools with the idea of rewiring the stimulus/response pattern away from the knee-jerk reaction, so exposing a person systematically over time to the fear without engagement in the response. This is something a lot of people with these tendencies are afraid of. The treatment itself scares them. Its really important to have a secure and trusting relationship with the therapist and be treated as a whole person, not just treated like a walking cluster of symptoms. Being obsessional and hypervigilant can also be a symptom of trauma. A good therapist can do a thorough intake and help a person determine this. If trauma triggers OCD type symptoms, then trauma needs to be delicately addressed before working on the symptoms that may be in place to cope with unbearable feelings. Please choose a therapist that you feel can really understand you when you are dealing with these kinds of repetitive thoughts, feelings and behaviors.