Psychotherapy for Anxiety

AnxietyAnxiety problems come in several forms:

  1. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  2. Panic Attacks
  3. Panic Disorder
  4. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  5. Phobias

Psychotherapy aims at resolving the roots of all these disorders: problematic thoughts, anxious feelings, avoidance, counter-productive behaviours, while breaking the link between environmental triggers and anxious thoughts.

Utilising a combination of techniques from Acceptance and Commitment therapy, Brief therapy, Solution-focused therapy, and hypnosis.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder is also known as Chronic Anxiety. It is characterised by feelings of anxiety occurring on a daily basis. The problem often goes back to teenage years and earlier. The individual may also report racing thoughts (in which one anxious thought chains into another), over-thinking and worry.

Panic Attacks

Where the person has been suffering from panic attacks for a few days, or a few weeks. The problem is typically triggered by a life crisis, or catastrophic incident. However, the underlying problem is triggered by thoughts relating to feeling insecure, unsafe, or overwhelmed by events.

Panic Disorder

Is so-called when the individual has recurring, frequent panic attacks occurring over months or years. The causes are the same as for panic attacks, with the addition that the person has now become anxious about having another panic attack, thus triggering the disorder all over again.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Due to underlying anxiety the individual has obsessional thoughts related to insecurity, linked to a compulsion to perform an act that wards off the anxiety. Examples of compulsions include:

  • Checking (appliances, locks, doors and windows, etc)
  • Counting
  • Washing/cleaning
  • Researching information about the supposed danger on the internet – medical, scientific and current affairs. This is common in obsessions about health.


These may be phobias about situations (e.g. airline flights, lifts, driving, heights, etc). These commonly occur after a bad experience. In social phobia individuals experience anxiety when going to social gatherings, on the basis that other people are judging or rejecting them. Agoraphobia is not ‘a fear of open spaces’ as the name implies, but anxiety over leaving the comfort zone of the home.

Treating Anxiety disorders

Psychotherapy aims at resolving the issues that contribute to anxiety: environmental triggers, anxious thoughts, and the physical state of anxiety. Any of the following techniques may be used in combination:

  • Mindfulness
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Hypnosis
  • Thought Defusion
  • Thought challenge
  • Thought replacement
  • Refocusing attention
  • Visualisation techniques
  • EMDR
  • Exposure