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Talk Therapy: How It Helps People With Anxiety




anxiety disorderAnyone who has experienced the terrorizing mental, emotional, and physical symptoms brought about by anxiety and other forms of anxiety disorders, such as Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Agoraphobia, Specific Phobias, and Separation Anxiety Disorder, knows that talk therapy is a major part of the recovery process. Without a strong professional therapist for support, an anxiety patient will definitely have a much more difficult time getting better from this frightening condition.


What is Talk Therapy?


By definition, talk therapy refers to different forms of psychotherapy that focuses primarily on helping people with mental health issues like anxiety disorder, understand and deal with the situations that are causing the mental, emotional and physical distress. With the help of a licensed therapist, talk therapy encourages clients to discuss their problems and find solutions to these particular ones.


How does Talk Therapy Works?


The client and the therapist work closely together in a safe, non-judgmental and absolutely confidential setting using a combination of psychotherapy and counseling. Although a little bit of the past is discussed, the dialogue mostly centers on prevailing issues and the feelings and understanding associated with them. As the therapy gains ground, the patient builds up a “mindful” awareness and better understanding of his situation that will enable him to re-evaluate his problems and change his perceptions.




What are the Types of Talk Therapy?


Previously, psychoanalysis was the earliest form of talk therapy. It was practiced by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Over time, other types of talk therapy were introduced and popularized including cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.


1. Cognitive therapy


Cognitive Therapy is a form of talk therapy that helps individuals suffering from anxiety change the way they perceive or process situations. People, who have a negative outlook on things, are taught to look at the world at a more positive light. In this therapy, the beliefs rooted on fears and suppositions are meticulously examined and scrutinized to establish their validity. The therapist helps the patient get through this process. And when the belief has been proven to be inaccurate, the therapist guides the patient to see the truth of things and replace the wrong belief with a more accurate and realistic statement. Since most patients are more inclined to embrace the worst-case scenarios of things as truth, cognitive therapy corrects these irrational fears. Gradually, the fear-producing thoughts are reduced, if not eliminated.


2. Behavioral Therapy


The intense fear produced by anxiety disorders often prevents sufferers from taking action to improve their situation. The nagging fear of having to experience another attack tends to rule over them, causing certain maladaptive behaviors to arise such as locking oneself up in one’s apartment, avoiding public places and contact with people, and obsessive counting or cleaning practices. Because of these undesirable ways of dealing with the stress put on by anxiety, behavioral therapy aims to replace them with healthier types of behavior.


As the patient assumes a more rational and correct way of thinking established in cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy presents the proper active steps that can be used to further promote the new belief and gear the patient toward greater self- efficacy. This therapy focuses on reward and punishment systems, aversion therapy, reinforcement and biofeedback.


3. Interpersonal Therapy


The core concept of interpersonal therapy revolves around treating anxiety in patients through examination and discussion of their past and present social roles and their various interactions with friends, family, and co-workers. This is based on the belief that interpersonal issues may contribute profoundly to a person’s psychological difficulties. It aims to modify a person’s interpersonal behavior by promoting adaptation to current interpersonal roles and situations.


In the first stage of the therapy, the therapist and the client work together to identify which interpersonal relationships need looking at in depth.  The therapist builds a history of the client so that the client will recognize where his emotional problems are coming from. After establishing a good history, the therapist guides the client into expressing his emotions in a healthier way. The client initiates this act. Lastly, in the final stage, the therapist and the client evaluates the progress made and whether issues have been settled or not. Moreover, the client is encouraged to focus on the future and what interpersonal modifications he can take to reinforce continuing improvement.


4. Psychodynamic Therapy


Psychodynamic therapy attempts to get the patient to bring into consciousness all the repressed and painful feelings stored in the subconscious part of the brain. It is believed that people try to hold back these “true feelings” as they are often too painful to deal with. People screen these feelings with defensive mechanisms such as denial, reaction formation, sublimation, and others alike to protect themselves from these painful truths. Psychodynamic therapy believes that these defenses are maladaptive forms of dealing with the problem and as such causes the person’s psychological difficulties. By trying to unravel the “true feelings”, people will be able to recover from their mental condition.


Talk therapy is one of the most common forms of anxiety disorder treatment. Aside from that, it is also considered to be the most effective means of battling mental health problems. With these credentials, people with anxiety disorders should greatly consider taking a chance with these therapies.

By Ryan Rivera
Webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate

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