There are many different anxiety therapy approaches to helping people with anxiety from cold therapy or breathing techniques to more traditional methods such as medication or talking with a therapist.
Most of them focus on reducing the symptoms or helping in the management of anxiety.
Some of the main talk-based approaches to anxiety therapy are cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, and exposure therapy. These all help deal with the thought aspect of anxiety.
As most people know, anxiety can be caused or intensified by our thinking.
But few people are aware that the reverse is ALSO TRUE - meaning that when our bodies/physiology is in a fear based response (fight or flight), our thoughts will shift.
Think of it like tapping into a certain frequency - if your body is stuck in stress mode, your mind will produce a stress type of thinking. In these situations, people will find talk-based approaches quite limited.
They will often say things like “I know what I am not meant to be thinking but can't seem to stop it anyway”.
Understanding Anxiety: A Brief Overview
ANXIETY is the inappropriate firing of the 'fight or flight' response due to the accumulation of stress in one's body and mind.
The 3 Most Common Types of Anxiety Therapy:
1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Unraveling Anxious Thoughts and Behaviors
Popular, most commonly thought to be most helpful with a psychologist. But limited as only works on your mind and does not address anxiety at the level of the cause (Nervous system). Because it does not address the body adequately, it is limited and so often great for management or less anxiety.
2. Mindfulness-Based Approaches: Present-Moment Awareness for Anxiety Relief
This is great in theory - but what few people understand is that Mindfulness, although seems like a modern, new concept, is just practices that have been taken out of many cultures that have been around for thousands of years, often taught as meditation awareness.
The main challenge here is that, to be mindful aware, one needs to be accessing the prefrontal cortex - which, ironically, is less active when under stress. So when in an anxious state, the reactive (or more primitive) part of the brain is active. This is why lots of people who try to use mindfulness find it ineffective.
When someones Nervous system is in a more optimally functioning state, then mindfulness can be more helpful.
3. Holistic Approaches: Alternative Techniques to Anxiety Therapy
These can be wonderful, depending on the practitioner and what they do.
I would say it's not the therapy that is most important, but is it effective at addressing anxiety at the level of the cause, which is the Nervous system being under too much stress, triggering the fight or flight response.
Most approaches that use talking don't address the Nervous system and so they are management techniques.
Breathing techniques don't sort out the mental side and are only short-term focused.
Nervous System Approach
In our clinic, we focus on addressing the Nervous system. Our approach would be classified as a Holistic approach, and we work with the Nervous system using NSA or Network Spinal Analysis. This is so effective at helping the body no longer be stuck in the defensive state of too much stress and to stop the brain from having the switch turned on all the time!
We also train the mind - but rather than CBT that works on management strategies, our goal is to to work on the solution and creating a growth mindset.
Because we work on the Nervous system this way, you access more of the prefrontal cortex when the body is in safety - here, it is easier to be mindful; it just kind of happens! People can all of a sudden meditate when previously they said they could not!
Address the cause - the Nervous system.
Work on a growth mindset.
Anxiety, with the right techniques and guidance, can be overcome for most people.