Anxiety is a common condition that affects millions upon millions of Americans, and millions more all over the world. Yet it doesn't have to, because while anxiety may sometimes feel insurmountable, the truth is that it's an extremely treatable condition.
Seeing a mental health professional is one of the most valuable ways to treat anxiety. But how do you find that person, how do you chose the right one for you, and what do you need to know to make sure that therapy works?
Choosing the Right Anxiety Treatment
Anxiety isn't one disorder, nor is everyone helped by the same treatment choices. Learn how to treat anxiety at home by taking my free 7 minute anxiety test now.
The Differences Between Professionals
Your symptoms dictate treatment, and know that unfortunately there is no one size fits all approach to anxiety. That's the first thing you need to realize - while commitment to treating your anxiety is extremely important, not all anxiety options will work for everyone. Make sure you never give up, because anxiety really is a disorder that can be treated, even if it doesn't always feel like it.
Start with my free 7 minute anxiety test. You'll get information that will help you make the right choices. Currently, there are a lot of options available for those with anxiety, but not all of them are going to be right for you. You'll choose from:
Psychologists/Therapists Psychologists, especially cognitive behavioral psychologists, are the most highly recommended option. While expensive, psychologists utilize therapies that have been researched in labs and are known to benefit those living with anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy has the most support, and is generally a great tool for reducing anxiety.
Counselors Counselors are another effective option. Counselors are those that do not have a Ph.D., but are licensed to be helpful for those with anxiety. Counselors are a great choice for those with anxiety but not necessarily a diagnosable anxiety condition -those that need weekly help in managing their life.
Psychiatrists Psychiatrists are like psychologists, except they generally focus on medicine first and psychology afterward. If you're someone that prefers medicine, psychiatrists have medical degrees and are allowed to provide you with medications to help with your anxiety. But they nearly always go with medicine first, and are not the best option for those that prefer only a non-medicinal treatment.
Alternative Treatments Alternative treatment options are also available. These are treatments like hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and other options. One thing to note about alternative treatments is that very few have received any research, and most of the benefits appear to be the placebo effect. But they're generally harmless, and if you find one you're passionate about it may be worth a try. Just remind yourself that if it doesn't work, it's probably because it was never a real option to begin with.
Ministers/Priests Some people prefer to go to their religious leaders to get relief from stress and anxiety. This is not a terrible idea, and certainly some people find benefits. But note that your success with this depends on your commitment to your beliefs, the religious leader, and whether or not you also engage in other options.
These are the options you have available. For the purposes of the rest of this article, we'll assume you're choosing a psychologist. However, the same ideas tend to hold true for other anxiety professionals as well.
How to Choose a Psychology Professional
So let's say you've decided to choose a psychotherapist to help rid yourself of anxiety. How do you choose one that you're going to stick with? Consider the following tips:
Commitment The most important part is choosing one you can commit to. Once you've decided to treat your anxiety, you need to make sure you stick with it. Recovery doesn't happen overnight, and if you're not willing to take the time to make sure that you are fully committed to anxiety reduction, you may have a hard time preventing your anxiety from coming back. That means:
- Making sure they're in a location you can get to.
- Making sure they're a price you can afford.
- Making sure they have scheduling time.
All of these are crucial parts of ensuring that you can recover, because recovery does take time, and you need to make sure that when you do choose someone you can commit.
Willingness to Walk Away At the same time, at least in the beginning, you need to be willing to walk away if you don't see a relationship there. Choosing a psychologist is about trust and comfort. You should keep looking until you find one that you feel this relationship with. It may take a couple of sessions to really know, but your ability to connect with your psychologist does play a very significant role in recovery.
Treatment You Believe In We mentioned earlier that cognitive behavioral therapy really is the best available treatment. But there are a few other treatments out there that also work. Make sure you're choosing one that you believe in, so that you are going to be willing to try everything the psychologist suggests. However, be open to the idea that if a treatment doesn't work, that doesn't mean anything about your anxiety -it simply means you need to try to find another one.
Reviews and Feedback Don't forget to use the internet as well. There are often places you can find reviews of the local psychotherapists in your area, and see what others are saying. Expertise isn't the most important part of treatment, but it still plays a very important role, so looking for professionals that are highly regarded can be very valuable.
Who you choose really does matter, because outcomes arent just based on the type of therapy - they're also based on how much you can commit to it, how much you trust the therapist, and so on. Ideally, you should also choose someone you can keep seeing even after you've been helped, so that if any setbacks arise you can call them and get assistance when you need it.
You may want to consider someone with experience with your particular demographics as well, including age, gender, race, and so on. While these demographics do not play a tremendous role in treatments, they do imply experience working with those that have your same needs, and that can also be valuable in the therapeutic session.
Should You Choose a Professional For Your Anxiety?
Overall, however, it's important to not lose sight of the goal of treatment - to make sure that you are able to cure your anxiety and live a better quality of life. That is the most important part of making sure that you're treating your anxiety. How you get there isn't necessarily as important as whether or not you get there.
So make sure that even if you do choose a professional counselor or therapist for your anxiety needs, you're still partnering that therapist with lifestyle changes, better habits and behaviors, and more. Only by ensuring that you're taking a complete approach to your anxiety are you going to improve your chances of curing it completely.
When I've helped people in the past, I start them all off with my free 7 minute anxiety test. This test looks directly at your symptoms, and shows you how your symptoms affect severity and treatment outcome.
Start the test now to learn more.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.