Do you find that anxiety interferes with your life? Does it prevent you from doing things you would like to do or even the things you need to do?
Anxiety is one of our many very human emotions but for some of us, it can feel like a debilitating force in our lives. It can suck out the joy of living and inject fear and uncertainty into everything…The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that Anxiety Disorders impacts 40 million American adults in a given year. That is MILLIONS of people not being able to live the life they want in line with their inherent potentials. Symptoms often begin in childhood and research shows that only a small percent of suffering children get the help they need. When left untreated, childhood anxiety disorders impacts the developmental trajectory of children, impacting social/relational and academic development. Just as with adults, every area of life can become tainted by the anxiety.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders is different. Most of my clients can testify to little long term benefit for their anxiety from traditional talk therapy. You simply can’t talk your way out of your anxiety. Empirically supported treatment approaches suggest a cognitive behavioral approach. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals examine the cyclical relationship between their thoughts and behaviors and suggest that change in one area will facilitate change in the other. Those struggling with anxiety are often plagued by maladaptive thinking patterns and they engage in behaviors that actually serve to increase their anxiety, even though they may think that they are minimizing it. In my practice I use CBT techniques to help children and individuals engage with their minds and their experience of anxiety differently. Additionally, variations of Exposure Therapy are empirically supported for Anxiety Disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. Using exposures in a careful and structured manner, I help clients face their fears thereby allowing them to find their own strength and resiliency.
In recent years, empirical evidence has finally provided validation for what eastern philosophy and medicine has been saying for thousands of years: Mindfulness practices help reduce levels of anxiety! Mindfulness is a practice of increasing non judgmental “presentness” by observing, being and accepting the present moment. Anxiety comes from a preoccupation with some unknown future therefore mindfulness is a great way to shift focus to the present moment in a gentle and accepting way. Research being done today at institutions, such as the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA, shows that mindfulness practices decrease our coritsol stress hormone, increase self esteem and improve overall emotional and physical wellbeing. My approach to working with debilitating anxiety is through a combination of CBT, Exposure Therapy, Mindfulness Techniques and Somatic Experiencing. My hope is to have my clients form a healthier relationship with their feelings of anxiety, increasing their capacity to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable while bravely carving a life path in line with their values.