Anxiety counselling

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders with approximately 15% of the population experiencing anxiety disorders. Females experience a much higher rate of anxiety disorder than males.

Anxiety disorder span a wide range from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder (“Anxiety attacks”), Agoraphobic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) to Post-traumatic Stress-Disorder (PTSD).

People suffering from Anxiety disorders often (40%) suffer comorbidly from mood (depressive) disorders.

Common symptoms include feelings of panic or fear, nervousness, agitation and an inablibility to be calm, tense muscles, cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and excessive worries about the future or about potential risks, physical symptoms such as nausea, heart racing, problems sleeping, shortness of breath, sweaty hands, dryness of mouth or the incapacity to eat in public.

Principles of psychological assessment

A detailed clinical history is important not only to identify the specific constellation of anxiety symptoms.

As stated above, comorbity with other psychological disorders is frequent and needs to be assessed, as this impacts on the treatment plan and treatment length. For the same reason taking the history of your childhood circumstances is important too. Possible medical conditions need to be ruled out as the primary cause for anxiety symptoms.

Self-report screening instrument like the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS21) or the  Kessler Depression Scale K10 are frequently used to further quantify the severity of symptos but also to measure change as the treatment progresses.

Principles of evidence-based treatment

Many people aim for a short term counselling within the Medicare 10 session limit. While it is not wrong to start with a Brief Therapy approach, that may include Clinical Hypnosis, Mindfulness, it may not be enough for every one and every symptom constellation.

Guidelines for Evidence-base treatment options suggest to include the following elements to the treatment plan

  • Psycho-education about the nature of anxiety is an essential component.
  • Self-monitoring (journaling) is a measure to increase self-awareness and monitor progress.
  • Relaxation training: often frowned upon, but being able to better relax gives back a sense of control that anxiety clients are often lacking. Clients can experience how beneficial relaxation can be for their well-being.
  • Cognitive Restructuring is a term describing to change patterns of problem-solving and decision-making. It addresses deeper thinking patterns and interpretation of situations.
  • Exposure techniques is the technical term for practicing new learned skills or ways of behaviour. This enables the person to gain and consolidate confidence and thereby reduce anxiety.
  • Problem-solving training can include building of social skills. Some people, for instance, benefit from learning how to start and maintain conversations, others benefit from learning how to go about finding the right life partner.

This list is not exhaustive and does not consider the co-occurence of other disorders.

All New Paths psychologists draw from several evidence-based counselling approaches, including Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Schema-Therapy, Clinical Hypnosis, Interpersonal Therapy. We do not do any standardised / manualised therapy, because everyone is different and is therefore every client is treated in a tailored, individualised way.

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