By Chiara Viscomi
Obsessive thoughts. Phobias. Panic attacks. Social anxiety. Nervousness. Frequent worry. Anxiety can take many different forms. And in today’s fast-paced world, it’s common, too. In fact, it’s estimated that about a third of adults in the U.S. will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
The good news is that there’s help available. Anxiety therapy can be extremely effective, states the NIMH. Plus, anxiety therapy is able to address anxiety in ways that anti-anxiety medications can’t, because it goes beyond just treating symptoms. Therapy helps you explore what’s behind fears and worries and teaches tools to manage anxiety.
What’s more, there are different types of therapy to suit different types of anxiety, as well as individual preference. There really is something for everyone. Read on to learn different types of therapy used to treat anxiety and see what speaks to you.
Somatic Therapy (Somatic Experiencing, Hakomi Method, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy) is used for several types of anxiety. It’s a holistic form of therapy that works with the body and its connection to the mind. It can be particularly useful for working with the traumatic life experiences that often underpin anxiety. Somatic therapy can also help to reveal and address issues contributing to anxiety that talk therapy alone might not.
Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA) is used with multiple types of anxiety. This therapy modality uses different art forms (such as drawing, painting, writing, dance, and music) to help people process their emotions and experiences. Studies have indicated that EXA can help decrease stress, as well as improve mental functioning and overall wellbeing.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used type of therapy for anxiety. Research has shown that it can be effective for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety, and phobias. CBT addresses the negative thoughts and perceptions that can contribute to anxiety.
Exposure Therapy is often used with CBT for phobias and social anxiety. As the name suggests, this type of therapy gradually exposes a person to feared situations or objects, step by step. The idea is that, over time, a person can challenge their fears, gain a sense of control, and learn ways to manage panic.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is used to treat several different types of anxiety. ACT focuses on mindfulness (or nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment), as well as identifying values and behaving in alignment with them.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been demonstrated to be effective for treating a variety of anxiety types. MBSR teaches mindfulness as a core skill for managing anxiety.
Whether you’re looking for help with panic, phobias, or generalized anxiety, there are several modalities to choose from. Each one emphasizes different tools—such as the mind-body connection, creativity, the power of our thoughts, or mindfulness—to loosen the grip of anxiety.
Relief is definitely possible. And now, there are more ways than ever to find your way back to a calmer life.