Therapy for Anxiety in Halifax
Our Halifax Psychologists are all trained to work with anxious clients. Anxiety involves psychological and physiological symptoms that signal the presence of a real, perceived, or anticipated threat (APA, 2000). Anxiety is essentially an adaptive response in that it is meant to trigger us into a state of mental ‘alertness’ while fueling our bodies with additional energy to deal with a potential threat.
Psychologists sometimes refer to this as the ‘fight or flight’ response, which is an automatic or reflexive nervous system response. Though anxiety is meant to help us, it may at times get triggered to excess or become activated unnecessarily. Individuals who suffer from anxiety know firsthand how debilitating it can be. Our psychologists work with clients to find symptom alleviation, though ‘symptom management’ is often balanced by a desire to offer a more permanent resolution; this may involve exploration of root causes of a client’s anxiety. We believe this therapeutic philosophy has the most to offer our clients.
Fears and Phobias
It is often the case that people will avoid objects or situations that cause anxiety or distress. If this is the case, and if such avoidance patterns go unresolved for too long, it may be considered a ‘phobia.’ Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the anxiety response toward the feared object or event. When we think about approaching an object that causes anxiety, we naturally want to move away from it. When we do that, our body is essentially ‘rewarded’ (it escapes the uncomfortable feeling). Our bodies ‘remember’ the association that has been made as it is held in implicit memory (e.g. muscle memory). This can create a pattern that becomes very difficult to control and may feel almost reflexive – we may even ‘know’ how irrational our fear is, but are still stuck in a vicious cycle of anxiety and avoidance. Importantly, if phobias go untreated, they may often generalize or worsen.
In these situations, our psychologists work with clients to help them understand avoidance patterns and potential roadblocks, while helping them gradually face their fear, which inevitably leads to a dissipation of anxiety. Our Halifax-based clinicians have experience in cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, psychodynamic, and existential approaches that can often be helpful in understanding and treating anxiety, fears, and phobias.
This is not your typical ’10-step’ or ‘quick-fix’ kind of self-help book – and that is in part its greatest strength. Rather than viewing anxiety from a medical model and as something to be superficially managed or avoided at all costs, the authors challenge their readers to begin exploring the meaning of their anxiety while confronting it from a mindfulness and acceptance based perspective. An excellent supplement to individual therapy, readers may come away from it will a different way of looking at anxiety, stress, and maybe even life.
American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., Text Revision). Washington, DC.