Engaging in therapy for anxiety can be a scary process, so it is helpful to know what therapy will be like before you start. I am a Behaviorist in the Psychology world. This does not mean that I ignore thoughts and emotions, but rather I focus on the use of evidence-based, behavioral interventions to effectively treat anxiety and other mental health issues. When helping you as a client overcome your anxiety, I focus on three important questions:
- What are you avoiding?
- How are you avoiding it?
- In what contexts are you doing this behavior?
I practice from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT (pronounced like the action, to act) theoretical perspective. ACT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that incorporates the use of strategies such as Exposure with Response Prevention, Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Committed Action to help clients learn to tolerate, sit with, and most importantly, APPROACH rather than AVOID, those thoughts, feelings, memories, sensations, behaviors, and situations that are unpleasant. The things we will focus on in session are:
- What do you care about most in your life?
- What is getting in the way of you getting/achieving these things?
- How can I help you make room for some unpleasant thoughts and feelings so that they no longer stop you?
This is done in service of living a more flexible, meaningful life. This may seem scary at first, but the MORE you approach the things that make you anxious, the EASIER it gets.
Relationships and Self-Confidence
With regard to relationships, my approach is quite similar, although the focus is more on beliefs, emotions, and interpersonal difficulties. If you are struggling with relationships, you may often have a fear of “looking stupid,” being vulnerable, or getting hurt. These fears might be associated with other painful feelings or memories from the past that you may have been trying to avoid for some time. In therapy, I will help you focus on:
- What kind of relationships do you want?
- What kind of patterns and problematic behaviors seem to be getting in the way?
- What are you willing to do differently to get the most out of your relationships?
Using ACT, I help you approach these painful feelings, and make room for them, so that again, they do not have to dominate your life. Once you get over this hump, you often will feel more confident and flexible, and willing to go after the relationships you want.