As an anxiety therapist, I utilize a specific treatment called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT involves examining and changing unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors, and replacing these with new, more helpful ways of thinking and living. In making these changes, one's painful and distressing feelings are reduced. CBT is the treatment of choice for anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety. It is also an effective treatment for the depression that often accompanies anxiety.
Changing Your Mind
The Cognitive-Behavioral approach to therapy assumes that mental health disorders are fueled by inaccurate and unhelpful beliefs that are stuck in one's thinking. Examples of some unhelpful beliefs that might perpetuate different anxiety disorders are:
Social Anxiety: "People think I'm an unacceptable person."
Panic Disorder: "Whenever my heart rate increases, that means I’m going to have a panic attack."
OCD: "If I don’t complete my rituals perfectly in the morning, I’m going to have a bad day."
The good news is that beliefs can change. Your brain only likes to keep beliefs around that it deems useful. If you repeatedly encounter new information or have numerous new experiences that contradict the old, unhelpful belief, that belief will eventually lose its strength and be replaced with a new, more accurate belief. In therapy, we facilitate this process by increasing your awareness of what your distorted beliefs are, and then engaging in a variety of CBT strategies to test them out. This can involve anything from having a conversation about distorted thoughts and beliefs in the therapy office to engaging in some behavioral experiments outside of the therapy office.
Course of Treatment
I begin with a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and life situation, usually completed with an initial 60-minute appointment. I will ask you lots of questions and try to understand your specific circumstances as clearly as possible. I may also contact any existing or prior providers with whom you think it would be helpful for me to speak. Once this evaluation is complete, I will share with you my clinical impressions and provide you with the treatment options that are most appropriate for your situation.
If treatment with me is the best course of action, we will start with what is known as treatment readiness, which can last anywhere from 1-3 sessions. I will provide you with some basic education on your specific mental health issue and its treatment. I will let you know what our sessions will look like, and what your work outside of our appointments will involve. We will identify your goals for treatment. We will discuss any additional issues, such as Autism, ADHD, Depression, or PTSD, which may impact how we proceed. We will also identify the coping skills and social supports you can rely on as you progress through treatment.
We then move forward with treatment, which will be a collaborative process based on the areas of your life where you'd like to focus your attention. As your therapist, I will help you identify and implement the CBT strategies and skills that will best target your symptoms, and I will provide you with feedback and encouragement. Throughout our work together we will monitor your progress, and make adjustments as needed. Treatment lengths can vary from short-term courses of 8-10 sessions to longer courses when symptoms are severe and complex. As you gain mastery over your symptoms, we may also space out your appointments, so that you can spend more time living life while still having a check-in to keep you on track.