Anxiety can range from mild to debilitating, and it tends to cause you to think things are worse than they really are. When you are feeling anxious, your fight or flight response is triggered, and you may experience an increased heart rate, lack of concentration and shallow, fast breathing. There's not always an identifiable trigger, as a period of anxiety can occur when lots of small stressors build up over time. There are a few different treatment options available for anxiety, including prescription medication, but if you're keen to avoid drugs, you may want to explore counselling as a means of reducing your anxiety. Here's a look at a few counselling techniques that can be used to help you overcome anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a technique that supports you to recognise how your thoughts impact your feelings and behaviour. Your counsellor will walk you through the process of examining your thought patterns and changing negative or irrational thought patterns in order to develop more supportive behaviours when you find yourself in a situation that feels stressful and induces feelings of anxiety.
Exposure therapy tends to feel counterintuitive, as you naturally want to avoid anything that you've identified as a trigger for your anxiety. However, by facing the situations or thought processes that cause you to feel anxious and exposing yourself to anxiety-inducing situations, desensitisation occurs. Triggers then hold less power, and you should feel more in control when faced with situations that would have caused you to feel anxious in the past. Exposure therapy can be emotionally exhausting and should only be carried out with the support of a trained counsellor.
Your counsellor can also teach you mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and box breathing. Employing these techniques when you feel anxious can bring you back to the present moment and allow you to feel calm. Anxiety often causes sufferers to think ahead and focus on worst-case scenarios, so bringing your focus back to the present moment by concentrating on your breath can be a helpful way to break the cycle of anxiety and allow your brain to rest. You may also notice that anxiety causes your muscles to become tense, and this tension can be released when practising mindfulness techniques.
Your counsellor may use one or all of the techniques mentioned above when supporting you to explore the cause of your anxiety and overcome anxiety. When selecting a counsellor, ask them how they have successfully supported clients with anxiety in the past and choose a counsellor with lots of experience working with anxious clients. For more information about anxiety counselling services, contact a local provider.