Dr. David Kim, PhD., Licensed Psychotherapist at the Research Institute for Counseling & Education, LLC (RICE)
The main type of psychological treatment for anxiety is a therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Researches shows that CBT is very effective treatment for managing and reducing anxiety in the long term.
CBT targets the way people think (Cognition) and act (Behavior). Treatment typically lasts 12 – 20 sessions and focuses on education about the nature and causes of anxiety, changing unhelpful ways of thinking to make thinking more balanced and realistic, and facing feared situations in a gradual, manageable way in order to overcome fears.
I remember the first day she came to see me at my office. Client, 37 years old female, looked visibly anxious and her movement was restricted by a stiff neck. She said that she had seen over 20 medical doctors in past month and could not find anything wrong with her neck and that her anxiety about not being able to function as a mother and wife had profoundly crippled her. Client reported that this happened when she went to see a chiropractic doctor for a simple procedure, who she had known for several years. Client stood up and showed me the limited movement in her neck. While she was up, I told her to move her neck little bit more, once to the left and once to the other side. She moved her neck from side to side. To her surprise, she was able to move. I told her that I wasn’t going to harm her and asked her to move her neck up and down. To her amazement, she was able to move. She was very happy that she had recovered limited amount movement, she came back for treatment. Clearly, she did not recover full motion of movement on the first visit. Using the CBT modality of treatment, we were able to systematically desensitize her fear of moving her neck (Behavior) while challenging and correcting her illogical fear of hurting herself (Cognition). It took more than 20 sessions, but she was able to recognize that much of her fear came from her past experiences of her childhood when certain physical illnesses had taken her mother away.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 globally suffers from anxiety. The WHO reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders worldwide with specific phobia, major depressive disorders and social phobia being the most common anxiety disorders (http://www.who.int/mental_health/advocacy/en/#Factsheets).
Fortunately, there is help. Research suggests that CBT offers an effective treatment for all anxiety disorders and it shows that it is at least as effective as medication. The gains that are observed with CBT are long lasting and tend to be maintained longer than improvements achieved by medication alone.