What Is The Best Type of Therapy for Anxiety?

best type of therapy for anxiety

best type of therapy for anxiety

There are many different types of therapy. In fact, most therapists practice more than one modality so that they can adjust their techniques to the needs of different clients. So, it’s hard to say for sure what the best type of therapy for anxiety it is. And when you factor in that there are different types of anxiety and of course individual human needs vary, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to anxiety treatment. That said, however, there are some therapies that are common choices for many people with anxiety. Let’s explore this a little bit more.

A Few Things to Consider First

We can’t understate how important it is to recognize two things:

  1. There are different forms of anxiety.
  2. Everyone experiences anxiety and therapy differently.

For example, someone with panic disorder might experience anxiety very differently than someone with social anxiety. Moreover, individuals with the same type of anxiety might find that different treatment options work for them. So, although we’re about to cover the best type of therapy for anxiety in general, never forget that what’s right for you may vary.

diversity in anxiety treatment

Common Types of Therapy for Anxiety

So, there’s no one size fits all best type of therapy for anxiety. However, there are some common approaches to therapy treatment that you might find useful. Here are a few examples.

Mindfulness Therapy

Mindfulness in therapy is more of a technique than a specific therapeutic modality. In other words, many different types of therapists can help you with this practice. Mindfulness helps bring you into the present moment. Anxiety is almost always a fear of the future. (It can also have relevance to trauma from the past.) When you are able to ground yourself in the present moment, where you are safe, you often become more capable of handling many of the symptoms of anxiety.

Exposure and Response Prevention

When you experience anxiety, your first instinct is often to stay away from anything that might trigger it. Unfortunately, this very natural response to protect yourself often backfires. You end up shrinking your world and experiencing more anxiety over time.

For example, let’s say that you experience anxiety when you’re driving a car on the freeway. So, you start taking side roads to avoid the freeway and therefore avoid anxiety. However, you then start to experience anxiety on side roads. So, you start driving as little as possible, just to work and back, for example. And then the anxiety grows and you don’t drive at all. That’s just one example.

The desire is to stay away from the trigger. However, the actual cure might be to expose yourself to exactly the thing that’s giving you anxiety. Exposure and Response Prevention is a type of therapy for anxiety that does this in a safe, structured way. You and your therapist work together to carefully expose you to your triggers, learn to sit with them until the anxiety fades, and gradually grow your tolerance.

anxiety quote

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This is often the most popular type of therapy for anxiety treatment. CBT is used widely to help people cope with a variety of different conditions. The general idea of it is that you learn to work with your thoughts and behaviors in new ways. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. But, that’s the gist. As you probably know, most of your anxiety is related to the thoughts in your head. If you can change your thoughts, then you can help yourself with those feelings of anxiety.

Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a very specific form of CBT therapy. It’s a specialized treatment option originally used primarily for treatment of borderline personality disorder issues. However, it’s also successful for some people as an anxiety treatment. It combines a form of mindfulness with traditional CBT techniques to assist you in learning how to not just tolerate discomfort in the moment but also change your thinking. In other words, you find ways to accept that things are exactly as they should be in this moment, reducing the anxiety around them.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Similar to DBT, ACT for anxiety works on both acceptance and change at the same time. On the one hand, you learn to accept your situation and not avoid anxiety triggers. On the other hand, you work to change your relationship to the thoughts and behaviors that relate to your anxiety.

movement therapy

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy techniques are body-based techniques. If you’ve experienced anxiety, then you know that it causes many different things to happen in the body. You might feel like your chest is tight and you can’t breathe or your breath gets shallow and/or rapid. You might start shaking or sweating, get dizzy, feel nauseous and so much more.

Talk therapy, including CBT for example, works from the top-down or from the mind to the body. In contrast, we could say that somatic therapy works from the bottom up, or the inside out, or the body to the mind. By calming the body through various techniques, you calm the mind. This can resolve the anxiety and/or help you get into a space where you can talk through what’s going on.

Movement Therapy, Art Therapy, Play Therapy

These options would have similar benefits as somatic therapy in terms of how they help to work on anxiety through the body. If just the idea of sitting still in a therapist’s office for fifty minutes exacerbates your anxiety, then something like movement therapy could turn out to be a really great option for you. Art therapy also offers movement of the body with the physicality of painting, working with clay, etc. And play therapy is applicable to all ages but can be an especially useful therapy technique for children dealing with anxiety.

Get Help for Anxiety

Most of our therapists specialize in one or a few modalities. However, many of them also have training and experience in different treatment options as well. Therefore, don’t hesitate to ask if they might offer the right type of therapy for anxiety for you. Contact us today or search or therapist directory to find a therapist near you.

Additional Helpful Information: