Therapy for the Anxious Individual
It is important to know when to make a referral for professional help. What are the criteria for making this decision? When it appears that an individual’s anxiety is interfering with their ability to function effectively in daily life, it may be appropriate to seek professional advice. Some to the conditions under which professional help is indicated include:
- Frequent physical complaints
- Social isolation
- Difficulty sleeping on a regular or prolonged basis
- Avoidance of school, work, social situations, telephone use
- Frequent crying
- Difficulty relaxing or chronic hyper arousal
- Loss of appetite or underrating
- Overeating or weight gain
- Significant change in academic achievement or work performance
- Behavioral problems (egg. Aggression, defiance)
Effective therapy for an individual with anxiety must involve a combination of ingredients. Positive rapport, for example, is important for developing trust and credibility. An educational phase must be included to demystify anxiety. Relaxation training is necessary to counteract and control anxiety. Cognitive change- identifying and restructuring attitudes and beliefs, and teaching the client how to change self-talk when anxious- is also necessary for successful treatment. Including other significant people such as family members may also be necessary to reduce stress, alleviate symptoms and ensure everyone closely involved has insight into anxiety and how to approach the issue.
Talk therapy or psychoanalysis assumes that there is an unconscious cause for anxiety symptoms, and that treatment requires a collaborative effort by the client and therapist to uncover the origin and dynamics of the disorder. This enables the client to understand why an anxiety symptom develops and how it affects them. For instance, many anxious individuals lack skills in identifying and expressing feelings. This may result from being raised in a family with a repressed emotional style, or in a family where feelings were not well controlled. For example an individual who witnesses violence or emotional rage in his parents when growing up is likely to either worry about anger and conflict, or learn to avoid anger and conflict. In therapy the individual learns the origins of their fear and avoidance and also learns the language of feelings. This involves acquiring a feelings vocabulary: a repertoire of words that go with various feelings and that are used to express feelings verbally. The therapist will help the individual name their feelings and will encourage discussion about them. Learning how to express feelings and needs reduces anxiety and empowers individuals in their relationships.
In addition to psychoanalysis, Cognitive-Behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered the most effective approach to treating anxiety disorders. The goal of cognitive-behavioral therapy is to change the thinking and behavior patterns that create and reinforce anxiety. Research on therapy indicates that the success rate for anxiety therapy using this approach is approximately 80 percent. Wanda is thoroughly trained in both approaches and it is recommended that combining psychotherapy and CBT ensure that the anxious individual receives comprehensive help and long-lasting results.