Feeling anxious is something almost everyone feels at some point. It can range from occasional worry to debilitating panic attacks, affecting overall well-being and quality of life. If you’re struggling with anxiety, knowing that you’re not alone and that effective treatments are available is essential. One such treatment option is counseling. In this blog post, learn more about what anxiety is, how counseling can help, and what you can expect from the counseling process.
Before diving into the counseling world, let’s take a moment to understand anxiety better. Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress or feeling like you’re in danger.
It can manifest as fear, unease, or worry, often along with physical symptoms, from a faster heart rate and sweating to concentration issues. While it’s normal to feel anxious in certain situations, such as before a big exam or a job interview, anxiety becomes a concern when it interferes with your daily life and well-being.
How counseling can help
Counseling is a collaborative process between a professional trained in addressing mental health issues and an individual seeking support. It provides a safe and confidential space to explore and address the underlying causes of anxiety. Here are some ways counseling can help:
Identifying Triggers: A counselor can help you identify the specific situations, thoughts, or behaviors that trigger your anxiety. Understanding your triggers allows you to develop strategies to manage and cope effectively.
Learning Coping Skills: Counseling equips you with valuable coping skills to manage anxiety symptoms. These skills may include deep breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices, and cognitive-behavioral strategies. With practice, these skills can help you regain control over your anxiety.
Gaining Emotional Support: Anxiety can be isolating, leaving you feeling alone and misunderstood. Counseling provides a supportive environment to express your fears, concerns, and emotions without judgment. Your counselor can offer empathy, validation, and guidance, helping you feel understood and less alone.
Challenging Negative Thinking Patterns: Anxiety often goes hand in hand with negative thinking patterns. A counselor can help you identify and test the accuracy of these negative thoughts, replacing them with more realistic and upbeat ones. This cognitive restructuring can lead to a more balanced and optimistic outlook.
Developing a Personalized Treatment Plan: Each person’s experience with anxiety is unique, and counseling recognizes this. A counselor will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs, goals, and preferences. This plan may include various mental health approaches, including mindfulness-based options.
What to expect from counseling for overwhelming anxiety
If you’re considering counseling for your anxiety, it’s natural to wonder what the process entails. Here’s what you can generally expect:
Initial Assessment: During your first session, your counselor will conduct an initial assessment to gather information about your background, symptoms, and goals. This step helps them comprehensively understand your situation and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Building Trust and Rapport: A strong therapeutic relationship is essential for effective counseling. Your counselor will create a safe and trusting environment where you can openly discuss your concerns and feelings without fear of judgment.
Collaboration and Goal Setting: Counseling is a collaborative process; your input is crucial. You’ll establish specific goals you want to achieve with your counselor through your journey with them. These goals will guide your sessions and provide a sense of direction.
Homework and Practice: In between sessions, the professional may assign you homework or suggest exercises to practice the skills and strategies from the sessions. This reinforces what you’ve discussed during sessions and helps you apply them to real-life situations.
Progress Evaluation: Periodically, you and your counselor will evaluate your progress toward the goals set at the beginning of your time with them. Doing so allows you to reflect on your changes and adjust the treatment plan if necessary.
Counseling for anxiety: Getting the help you need
The right counselor can introduce you to coping strategies designed to reduce anxiety. Some coping methods will be ones you gravitate toward and find helpful, while others will be less so.
The professional is there to guide you. It is up to you to put in the work and implement the coping strategies. It’s not always easy, but it’s well worth it for your mental health.
13 thoughts on “Anxiety and counseling: Here’s what you need to know”
Hi Christy, anxiety and depression are very complex mental health issue that are quite difficult to address. I suffer from anxiety, but it isn’t chronic. I hold up well but from time to time I do get overwhelmed and then I lash out. My younger son suffers from depression and is having counselling and is also medicated. My older son suffers from PTSD and OCD. Both my sons mental health issues have their root in their chronic illnesses. I actually wrote about this exact thing in The Nutcracker.
Hi Robbie, firstly, I’m glad that both sons have been diagnosed. I think one of the hardest things is going through to adulthood without a name for the condition. I agree that it’s complex and the thing is that anxiety doesn’t look the same in everyone. Also, as it’s invisible it can sometimes be discounted by doctors, sadly. Sending much love to your family
It’s good to know you are not alone 💗
Getting emotional support from someone outside a familiar circle of friends and family seems to be one of the strengths of the counseling relationship.
Hi Becky, that’s true. Having the objective opinion of a counselor is huge. Sometimes it’s hard to believe what a loved one tells you if you believe so many negative things about yourself. I used to think, “They’re just being nice.” But then the therapist would say something similar and I was like wowa.
A very informative and well-thought out article. I am an anxiety/panic attack survivor, so to say. I deal very well on my own without medication and positive thinking. I keep busy day to day and get a lot of helpful relief from my two cats Freddie and Morticia. For me at my age the draw back to counseling would be I do not believe in it at all and I have no finances to even think about it. Also my anxiety does not let me get too far away from home and the familiar and since I arrived in Florida have not taken public transportation. I am happy that I have learned to manage and also thankful to the Lord that the hardest parts are over since losing my husband and relocating to the US. In the six years I have been here only one bad incident was triggered it took a week to get back on my feet but I went the herbal route and got help with Valerian root drops which were also helpful in the days immediately following the death of my husband,
Dear friend, thank you for taking the time to share what works for you, and for including mention of the herbal solution you use, along with positive thinking, faith, and cat love. I am sorry to hear about your husband. The value of our fur babies is amazing and makes me love them all the more knowing how they help you. They are family. I totally understood when you said you don’t travel far because of the anxiety. I am the same, and I also have a very small social circle. Do what works well for you xx
What a good post Christy, you certainly hit a nerve here! Too often, I see people go right to the pharmaceuticals, often with lots of side effects, difficulties with dosages, and a whole new set of problems. I have some people very close to me who seem to always be “fiddling with their meds” not doing any of these practical suggestions, no real counseling whatsoever, and, bottom line, not getting a single bit better. One relative got “counseling” from an on-line doctor who prescribed at last count three different drugs, and didn’t spend a single session with her talking about the issues, just side effects. She is worse than where she started.
I know some people may genuinely benefit from the medications, but getting to the root of the problems seems to be a needed, and often skipped, step. Life is tough, fixing problems is never easy, and there is no magic pill.
I’m sad to hear about your family member who was given meds without talking about the underlying mental health issues. I truly believe that a combination of counseling or therapy and meds taken as a doctor prescribed, within a comprehensive treatment program, can help. I know for me that worked well. As you say, meds alone won’t be getting to what the real issue is, only addressing surface level things, and potentially making things worse, as is happening to your loved one. I hope they get the additional help needed. I also don’t like thinking people are adjusting their medications rather than doing what the dr said (dosage amount and frequency). That’s scary. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Dorothy.