Anxiety is one of the most common reasons that people consult psychologists. There are a range of different anxiety disorders that each require different treatment approaches. Anxiety symptoms arise as part of a fear response and can be very debilitating. Anxiety is an umbrella term for a range of different conditions. For example, anxiety may relate to more general worry about a range of life situations (as in Generalised Anxiety Disorder), it may be triggered by social situations (as in Social Anxiety Disorder), it may relate to fear of particular situations that are difficult to escape from (as in Agoraphobia) or may relate to a past trauma (as in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Some people have strong fears about specific objects or situations (such as a fear of spiders or heights). A psychologist may be able to assist with any of these experiences.
How can a psychologist help?
Most psychologists are well versed in identifying and managing various anxiety disorders. A psychologist is likely to gather information to understand your experience and then tailor an intervention to suit you. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an evidence-based therapy that is effective for a range of anxiety disorders (Otte, 2011). Treatment may include educating the client about how anxiety disorders develop, exploring new ways of thinking and behaviours to break the cycle of anxiety and building up coping skills such as relaxation techniques.
ReferencesAmerican Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.
Otte, C. (2011). Cognitive behavioural therapy in anxiety disorders: current state of the evidence. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 13 (4): 413-421.