Are you struggling with anxiety? Anxiety can take different forms, including:
- Generalized anxiety, including excessive worrying, agitation, feeling stressed, or a vague sense of unease or dread
- Panic attacks
Are you having bothersome physical or cognitive symptoms of anxiety, such as:
- Muscle tension
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
- Racing, disturbing or obsessive thoughts
- Spacing out, dissociating, or feeling disconnected from your body or feelings
Is anxiety interfering with your life, causing problems such as:
- Discomfort in or avoidance of social, professional or competitive situations
- Difficulty asserting or expressing yourself
- Low self-esteem
- Compulsive or addictive behaviors
How Therapy Can Help
If you are having problems like the ones described above, you are not alone. Anxiety is one of the most common reasons for seeking therapy – and is a highly treatable condition.
I take a holistic approach to working with anxiety, helping you address it in terms of its emotional, cognitive and bodily components.
- Emotion: Therapy can provide a safe, supportive and nonjudgmental space in which to explore your anxiety – as well as present situations that you find uncomfortable or perceive as threatening, and past events and relationships that shape your present experience. Through this exploration you gain a richer and more nuanced understanding of your total emotional experience as it relates to your anxiety. Therapy offers an opportunity to work through those emotions and heal injuries from the past, gradually removing the purpose anxiety serves in your life.
- Cognition: Contributing to anxiety may be beliefs that influence how you experience yourself and your relationship to the world. This may include core beliefs that relate to existential themes such as safety, self-worth, feeling loved, belonging, power and freedom. Some core beliefs may largely operate outside of awareness and yet shape your experience in important ways. As you understand the roots of those beliefs in the past, and what prompted them, you discover you have a choice whether to keep them, modify them, or let them go and adopt new and more empowering and self-affirming beliefs.
- Body: Anxiety may get anchored in one’s body and nervous system, where it takes on a life of its own. For example, physical tensions, holdings, postures and movement patterns may express and reinforce ways of being in the world that made sense in the past but no longer serve you. Similarly, present situations that remind you of past, painful situations may trigger reactions felt in your body. Through therapy you can gain increased awareness of such physical patterns and reactions and learn how to shift them.
In working with anxiety, I also focus on building resources. That is, I help you counteract the force of anxious feelings, thoughts and bodily patterns by focusing on experiences that evoke feelings of strength, competence, calm and pleasure. You may already possess many of these resources but not use them to their full potential, or you may want to develop new ones. A few examples include:
- Focusing on pleasant, comforting and empowering sensations in your body
- Using breathing and other relaxation and grounding techniques to calm and soothe your nervous system
- Drawing strength and support from relationships, and improving the quality of relationships
- Developing mastery over situations that formerly made you anxious
- Engaging in affirming self-talk
- Becoming more solution-oriented and less problem-focused
A word about depression: Sometimes anxiety occurs by itself, and in other cases it coincides with depression. This is because symptoms of depression – like feeling hopeless, feeling bad about oneself, or having difficulty with motivation – can in turn lead to anxiety. Conversely, the toll that anxiety takes on one’s life can contribute to or aggravate depression. In these cases, I work with both your anxiety and your depression.
See Therapeutic Modalities for a description of specific modalities I use in working with anxiety.