Therapies & Solutions

Counseling For Anxiety: Does It Work?

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10, 2020

Counseling For Anxiety: Does It Work?

One of the issues surrounding anxiety treatments is that few of them are well researched. People try all sorts of unusual tools to cure their anxiety - tools that many people claim are effective, but are often nothing more than the placebo effect.

Counseling is different. Counseling and therapy are some of the few types of anxiety treatments that receive a significant amount of research, and whose benefits have been essentially proven in the scientific world.

Counseling is a Natural Anxiety Cure

Anxiety cures are a major industry. Many people look for non-medication cures, because they know that anxiety medications tend to have significant side effects. But for some reason people forget that counseling doesn't require any medication. It's a natural anxiety treatment that can be completed without any medicine.

Types of Counseling and Anxiety

There is more than one type of counseling and therapy. The most established and likely most beneficial is cognitive behavioral therapy. Unlike other forms of therapy, CBT has been consistently shown to benefit all types of anxiety. Other types of counseling include:

  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Holistic Therapy
  • Gestalt Therapy
  • Existential Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy

There are dozens of other therapies as well. It should be noted that not all of these are right for anxiety, and the degree of effectiveness changes for each one. For example, psychodynamic theory - the therapy created by Sigmund Freud that change the way people think about mental health - is now considered to be pseudoscience, which essentially means "fake science," by much of the scientific community.

Anything can call itself counseling, so there are several types that are either ineffective or less effective than practitioners and their patients believe. Other examples of therapies that are claimed to be pseudoscientific include:

  • Attachment Therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Conversion Therapy
  • Phrenology

It should be noted, however, that these therapies may be effective. This is not a judgment against these therapies, and those that want to attempt them my find value in them. But these are examples of therapies that scientific evidence doesn't support, or that have been shunned by most of the psychological community.

It's for these reasons that doing your research is important. Make sure you're not just choosing a therapy that "sounds neat," but rather one you truly believe in based on the evidence presented to you. Your own belief in the treatment actually does play a role in its success. Otherwise you may suffer from what's known as the "Nocebo" effect (when you believe something won't work so strongly that it doesn't work even when it should).

Generic Counseling for Non-Anxiety Disorders

Not everyone suffering from anxiety and stress has an anxiety disorder. That's why there is also counseling available for those that simply want someone to talk to. This type of counseling is extremely valuable, because it can help those that are suffering from anxiety get help before it develops into a harder to cure anxiety disorder.

Also, living with anxiety and stress is always difficult and hurts your quality of life. Counseling is an effective way to ensure that your life isn't damaged by living with anxiety, whether you have an anxiety disorder or not.

The Effect of Counseling on Anxiety

Counseling is an effective anxiety treatment. However, there are several factors that affect its success. Those factors include:

  • Therapy Type First and foremost, not all counseling is created equal. Cognitive behavioral therapy has the most empirical support, but other therapies may also be effective and still a fine choice for those that are not fond of CBT. No therapy is 100% effective, and each one is based on the individual. There is _always_ a way to treat anxiety, but sometimes you have to search a little to find it.
  • Commitment Therapy isn't magic. It's something that requires commitment, and you have to want to learn from it. Many people don't take therapy seriously. Others don't believe it will work and cause it to fail. Still others put themselves into stressful situations and refuse to commit to curing anxiety outside of counseling. All of these can set it back.
  • Therapist Not only are therapies not created equal - therapists aren't either. An unfortunate reality of counseling is that you need to have a connection with your therapist. If you don't have that connection or trust, or your therapist doesn't give you confidence in the outcome, your therapy may be less likely to work. You may need to look around to find someone you connect with.

Counseling is also expensive, and requires a regular commitment. It's never a bad idea to try to work with a counselor, but it's also not uncommon to find that you simply don't have the time or money.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

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Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient


You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

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