What is anxiety therapy like?
Anxiety disorders are, along with mood disorders, the psychological problems that most affect people of all ages.
The discomfort produced by this phenomenon can take many forms and appear in very varied contexts, to the point where each individual can be said to experience anxiety in their own way.
However, despite the complexity of this type of psychological disturbance, the science of psychology has managed to develop forms of intervention that allow us to effectively manage and overcome these problems. To better understand these resources, throughout this article we will see a summary of what anxiety therapy is like .
What do we understand by anxiety problems?
In order to understand the way in which psychologists help patients who come to our consultations with anxiety problems, it is first necessary to understand what exactly the latter consists of, the anxiety phenomenon .
Anxiety we understand a set of physiological, cognitive, emotional processes and patterns of interaction with the environment characterized by the appearance of a state of alert oriented towards the avoidance of situations that are feared, in response to the need to react quickly to any sign of danger or risk.
That is, when we feel anxious, what happens in us has a lot to do with fear : sometimes it is fear of what we might lose if we do not move quickly when it plays, and sometimes fear is based on need not to miss an occasion that, in case of not taking advantage, would make us feel very bad. In most cases, both phenomena occur at the same time to a greater or lesser extent.
As anxiety predisposes us to react quickly, it is not in itself a bad thing; therefore, anxiety therapy is not something that everyone should resort to at all times. In fact, it is part of the survival mechanisms that we have inherited from our ancestors, because natural selection has favored the existence of a certain degree of propensity for anxiety in individuals. However, nothing in nature is perfect, and that's why anxiety can sometimes lead to problems .
For example, some people develop addictions due to an inappropriate style of dealing with anxiety, others assume that the anxiety they feel is due to their low value as people, others develop phobias, etc. None of this is in itself an inevitable product of simply having the ability to feel anxiety, but sometimes the combination of biological characteristics and personal experiences causes this type of psychological disturbance to occur .
What is anti-anxiety psychotherapy?
When anxiety becomes a significant problem that affects the person in one or all areas of a person's life and that damages their mental health, it is time to go to psychotherapy. These are the resources of psychotherapeutic intervention most used in the consultation of psychologists when helping patients with anxiety discomfort.
1. Systematic desensitization
Systematic desensitization is one of the most widely used forms of intervention in anxiety therapy. It is based on "training" patients to face those experiences that produce problematic levels of anxiety , in combination with relaxation exercises that induce states incompatible with anxiety.
In this way, the link between what is feared, on the one hand, and anxious reaction, on the other, is weakening.
2. Cognitive restructuring
Cognitive restructuring is based on Socratic dialogue, a type of dialogue with the therapist in which the beliefs to which the patient clings and which at the same time keep the problem to be treated alive are questioned , in this case linked to the anxiety. Examples of inappropriate beliefs that reinforce the problem are ideas such as "I am destined to be laughed at by everyone", "I will never be able to face that fear", "I am unable to prevent everything from going wrong", etc.
Hypnosis can help alleviate anxiety problems, and is used in combination with other tools used in psychological intervention programs. It consists of a set of techniques based on the power of suggestion to help patients redirect their attention focuses towards non-problematic aspects of what they feel.
4. Self-observation strategies
In psychotherapy, the person is also helped to detect the logics behind his anxiety problem, so that he is able to have a critical and informed perspective about what is happening to him, and do not assume that what he feels corresponds totally with reality. To achieve this, psychoeducation is carried out on the one hand, and on the other, a self-observation training plan , in which patients learn to detect thought patterns that keep the anxiety problem daily.
5. Attention to psychological problems derived
In many occasions, the problematic anxiety does not come alone , but it appears of the hand of other harmful psychological alterations For example, the anxious-depressive pictures are frequent. Given this, psychologists do not limit ourselves to treating anxiety only, although this was the only reason for consultation.
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