Ah, the quest to find the perfect anxiety therapy… I know it well! And I know a lot of people who never end up getting therapy because it's so difficult to find what they need. So, guess who's here to help? ;)
Let’s jump right into the options. But first, if you’ve just decided to go to therapy for the first time, I wanna show you HUGE respect!! I know how scary it can be, so WELL DONE for making your wellbeing a priority! Therapy is one of the most rewarding things we can do for ourselves so I'm beyond excited for you 🥰
So, which therapy should we go for?
Every one of us is an individual. And just like when it comes to picking what ice cream flavour we want, we each have our own preference (chocolate chip pleeease)! With so many types of therapy out there, and therapists who provide combinations of them - it's up to you to find the perfect fit. In this article, we'll cover some of the best and most frequently used therapies as well as some more 'alternative', but equally powerful ones! That includes:
Let’s get into them!
You might have heard about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); this is one of the best known and most common therapies to help with anxiety.
I’ve experienced CBT and it’s the kind of therapy where you talk and then, with the help of a therapist, look for unhelpful or negative thinking patterns. I was told to label thoughts into categories and then try to replace them with more positive and rational thoughts.
An example of a thinking-pattern I learnt about was “fortune-telling thoughts”, which were basically me assuming what would happen in the future. I’m very self-critical and my anxiety makes this tendency even worse, so I would often find myself projecting this judgemental point of view into the future. It’s not like I didn’t know that I was doing this before starting therapy, but through CBT I learnt to deal with all the main ways these thoughts arise and it became SOOOO much easier to call them out and cope with my anxiety! 🤩
Essential info: Research shows that CBT is highly effective for anxiety disorders, with long-lasting results. It's often recommended as the first-line treatment for anxiety disorders. 🏆 You can typically expect 6-20 sessions, depending on your needs. No need for a specific referral — just ask your GP! 🏥
It’s literally in the name, we get exposed! Nah, I’m just kidding! 🤣 Exposure therapy helps us by exposing us to the situations that trigger our anxiety.
It can be a part of CBT or used on its own. In Exposure Therapy, we make lists of things that can trigger our anxiety and work with our therapists to confront them step by step.
When I was studying psychology, we had a perfect example of this: say dogs make us anxious. Our first step would be to look at the dogs from a distance, then go near a dog with a friend, then go near it alone and finally try to pet it. 🐶 This helps condition our brain to learn to overcome the anxiety-triggering event.
Essential info: Exposure therapy is well-researched and proven to be effective for anxiety disorders, particularly phobias. 📈 The number of sessions needed will vary depending on your progress. 🗓️
This therapy is a type of CBT and is known to be a very effective one as well! So much so that it isn't just used for coping with anxiety but also other mental health issues.
So what does it actually do? Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is essentially all about helping people manage their emotions and reactions, especially if we're dealing with intense, difficult-to-handle feelings. Imagine it like a "life skills course" that helps us better navigate through your own mind. 🗺️ The whole "dialectical" thing in its name is just a fancy way of saying that it's about finding a balance and being able to come to terms with opposing things. Like, you might feel two conflicting emotions at once, right? DBT tries to help us figure out how to handle that without going into a tailspin! 🥰 Sounds amazing, right?
DBT has a few key skills that helps us cope with our anxiety better, for example:
Essential info: DBT is typically administered over the course of several months to a year, depending on your needs and progress. 🌈 Each week usually involves one individual session and 1 additional group skills training session where you work alongside others. Yay, people :D
I really like how this one is approached! Coping with anxiety would be so much easier if we could just accept that some situations make us have negative thoughts. After that, all we have to do is commit to changing those thoughts. Well, ACT helps us do just that!
It helps us clarify our personal values and work changing our behaviour when faced with a situation that triggers anxiety! 🤩 Sounds cool right?
Essential info: Studies have shown that ACT is effective in reducing anxiety symptoms and improving overall mental health. 📈 ACT therapy can range from as few as 6-12 sessions to 20 or more sessions. 💌
The goal of Psychodynamic Therapy is to find unconscious thoughts and desires that could be the actual main cause of our anxiety…it really dives deep into 'why' you're feeling the way you feel - creates space for us to talk about our childhood and so much more.
*Oooh, maybe this would help me know why I keep dreaming of becoming a mermaid or fighting with a troop of soldiers? 🧜🤺*
Psychodynamic therapy is based on Sigmund Freud's work, as well as his followers like Carl Jung. If you're looking for pure Freudian therapy, check out 'Psychoanalysis' below.
Psychodynamic therapy has been found to be effective for anxiety and many other mental health issues, but its success depends on your ability to engage in self-reflection and form a strong 'alliance' with your therapist. 💫 The duration of treatment can range from short-term (a few months) to long-term (a year or more), depending on your needs and progress. ⏳
Just like changes in fashion, we also see changes in what's 'in vogue' for therapy. While CBT is the most common kind of therapy today, not long ago it was Psychoanalysis! 💁
As mentioned under 'Psychodynamic Therapy', Psychoanalysis came from Sigmund Freud who dived deeper into the mind and the way it works than anyone ever before him... It's focused on the subconscious, or 'unconscious' as it's known in Psychoanalysis and helps us be ourselves authentically, as a human being in our rawest form.
It normalises aggression, sexuality and all those other things we like to pretend we don't think about day-to-day. Yes, you know those really weird and inappropriate thoughts you sometimes get and shy away from? Psychoanlaysis is here for allll of them!
For that reason, it's my favourite kind of therapy. I love to get to the root of how I'm feeling and why I'm feeling that way. No other styles of therapy gave me that. The only rule in Psychoanalysis is to say whatever you're thinking. When it came to my anxiety, it gave me the space to speak completely freely. To not judge the words that would come out my mouth. This gave me the power to trust myself again
The set-up itself can seem a little odd at first. It's the kind where you go and lie down on a couch with the therapist of 'Analyst' behind you. The kind of therapy you see in the movies! There's a lot of silence as the Analyst as your thoughts to arise naturally and see where they go for yourself. It's very much self-led which works for some of us, but not everyone!
The difference with Psychodynamic Therapy is that Psychoanalysis is less focused on the social environment and its effect; it's all about YOU.
Like before, it has been found to be effective for anxiety and many other mental health issues, but its success depends on your ability to engage in self-reflection and form a strong 'alliance' with your therapist. 💫 The duration of treatment can range from short-term (a few months) to long-term (a year or more), depending on your needs and progress. Traditionally, it's done 3-5 times a week, and I've been doing that for 4 years now (I KNOW!). It feels daunting at first, but to be honest, it's now just like have a regular workout for my mind and normal part of my life! 👌
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), is a type of therapy that's all about helping people deal with the effects of anxiety or traumatic experiences.
EMDR therapy involves us focusing on the source of our anxiety while the therapist guides our eye movements or uses other types of stimulation, like tapping or sounds. The idea is to help your brain reprocess these fears and worries so they don't have such a big hold over us anymore. Sooo interesting!
EMDR is especially suited for people who've experienced trauma and are having a tough time getting past it. This can include big 'T' traumas, like serious accidents, abuse, or war experiences, as well as little 't' traumas, like bullying, divorce, or loss of a job. It's been proven pretty effective, particularly for conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In terms of how long it takes: typically, you could be looking at anywhere from 5 to 15 sessions, though sometimes it might take more depending on your individual needs. In some cases, people start noticing some changes after a few sessions, but everyone's experience is unique, as always!
Ah! Guys, this is definitely the next therapy I want to try!! It can be difficult to verbalise our anxiety, so Art Therapy helps us express ourselves through, you guess it: Art! 🖼
I meannn, it's clear to me why art is a creative activity for a lot of people. Having it as a form of therapy helps calm us down, distract us from our negative thoughts and express ourselves. And at the end of finishing a piece we feel productive and proud of doing something that is an expression of ourselves AND increasing our self-esteem!
So, I guess I’m gonna be a painter today and maybe a sculptor tomorrow!! Who knows? 👩🎨
Art therapy, like many other forms of therapy, is very individualised, and the number of sessions required can widely vary based on a person's unique needs, goals, and progress. It’s all about finding a medium through which to express emotions and experiences that might be difficult to communicate in words. The process is considered therapeutic, not the end result which I think is absolutely on point! 🙌
These just keep on getting better and better, don’t they?? If I knew that dogs were involved in therapies, I wouldn’t have been so scared to go in the first place!! 😍
Animal assisted therapies are very effective for anxiety because animals help us relax and distract us from our racing thoughts. I mean, DUH! Animals are the best source vibes, right? There are dogs, cats, and horses involved in this therapy approach…and I’m bursting with waves of cuteness just imagining the therapy sessions while writing this!! 🐴 This therapy uses activities that involve interacting with animals and forming a bond with them, for example, feeding them, bathing them and taking them on walks.
Some people might find that a short-term intensive course of therapy, such as daily sessions for a couple of weeks, is beneficial. Others might prefer weekly sessions over several months. It's also worth noting that animal-assisted therapy can be used in combination with other types of therapy.
Drama therapy is like bringing theatre and psychology together for a unique therapeutic experience. You get to use role-play, storytelling, improvisation, and sometimes even script writing to express your feelings, explore personal problems, or learn new ways of dealing with life's challenges.
Think about it like this: You're stepping into different roles and, in doing so, you're able to explore emotions, perspectives or experiences that may be tough to confront in your real life. You don't need to be a drama pro to benefit - in fact, it's less about acting skills and more about exploring and expressing ourselves. In general, if you're a fan of creative or expressive therapies, or find it easier to express yourself non-verbally, drama therapy could be a good fit for you. But also, if you've never tried creative things, this could be an incredible way to unlock something new! 💁
Lol no, this isn't another type of therapy, just the end of the article! I know how hard it is to finally decide to go for therapy, but it's beyond worth it if you can find the right fit! The change it's brought me and many others makes us feel like better versions of we already are! 🥰 Now, that you know some options, get chatting with a therapist! They’ll help make sure you’re getting the treatment that’s best for you. And in time, if you don’t feel it’s working, you can always ask to switch to a different one. 😁
I just wanna put this out there: There are ways other than therapy to cope with anxiety. A big part of dealing with anxiety is self-care. If you haven’t read the blog about self-care tips then I hope you take some time out to read that one! 😉
We’re all trying our best to take one day at a time and try to be a better person for ourselves and others.
You’ve got this, my loves! 💅❤️