Therapies for Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety disorders and their related conditions are often treated through therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Treatment usually depends on the nature and severity of the condition, and on the preferences of the patient.
Therapy is often preferred to medication, as some people are afraid of side effects of medication or that the medication will change who they are as people. While medication can help therapy to be more effective, therapy can be effective on its own.

Knowing more about their therapies used for treating anxiety disorders and related conditions can help patients to feel more comfortable with the process and may be able to help them work with their healthcare providers to create a personalised plan that is more likely to work for them.


People often confuse psychotherapy with psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is one kind of psychotherapy that often involves determining the root causes of a disorder so that those memories and feelings can be dealt with. It is very intensive in terms of content and time commitment and can make patients, especially those with anxiety, very uncomfortable. While it is sometimes used, it has waned in popularity as other kinds of psychotherapy have become more popular.
Psychoanalysis is still largely used in the treatment of phobias, which often develop due to some kind of childhood trauma. It used to be believed that virtually all anxiety disorders and related conditions were the result of experiences in childhood, but this theory has been largely abandoned, contributing to the decline in popularity of psychoanalysis.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or “CBT,” is still a kind of psychotherapy but it is a more modern variety that is less intensive and often more effective than psychoanalysis. While psychoanalysis searches for the root of a problem in order to confront it, CBT tries to identify the mechanism of a problem so that that mechanism can be disrupted. In the case of anxiety disorders, for example, feelings of anxiety may come from a person’s insecurity in their ability to handle a basic situation, or in their fear of unrealistic situations. Where psychoanalysis would try to determine why a person doubts their abilities or comes up with unrealistic situations, CBT focuses on disrupting the thought pattern so that basic situations seem more manageable and the patient is more able to discern likely outcomes from unlikely or impossible outcomes.

Supportive Therapy

Supportive therapy uses guidance from a therapist to help an individual to form more healthy and beneficial relationships with the people around them. It is based in the idea that people will get more support from improving the relationships that they already have than they will from forming a close relationship with a therapist.
Supportive therapy is particularly helpful for people who suffer from feelings of anxiety particularly in social situations. By growing and building on the relationships that they may already have, they may learn to better understand the ways in which relationships can form between themselves and other people.

Seeing a Therapist

While seeing a therapist does not usually require a referral from a psychiatrist or primary care provider, having one can help you to identify a therapist that is right for you. It may also help you to pay for the therapy through health insurance, though this will depend on your insurance provider. Having a referral from a psychiatrist of primary care provider may also make it easier for you to begin therapy by giving the therapist an idea of what they are working with.
The length of therapy depends on the nature and severity of the condition as well as on the individual. As is the case with medication, the individual can usually choose to stop the treatment at any time. While stopping a medication very suddenly can be dangerous and harmful, stopping therapy does not usually cause any severe problems.
The length of therapy also depends on the kind of therapy. Psychoanalysis and CBT may take years to reach a successful conclusion, while supportive therapy may not take nearly as long.

At Citizen Counselling and Coaching a number of our counsellors and coaches can provide support around anxiety. This can include identifying the obstacles to being less anxious, creating practical plans and advice through sharing techniques and models that have worked for others.
Our ‘My Anxiety Coach’ online programme and Coaching was designed for time poor busy people looking to increase their confidence and make a positive change in their lives.
Our Overcoming Anxiety page can explain more