Anxiety Therapy

Why Anxiety therapy?

While anxiety is a natural emotion designed to help us, it can feel overwhelming if it has become stuck and plays a part in our every day life. With mental health struggles on the rise, many people are living with anxiety symptoms as their normal way of existing. This does not have to be the case beacause nowadays there are many anxiety therapy approaches that can help reduce anxiety.

Anxiety therapy is any therapeutic approach which helps to reduce anxiety symptoms, find new ways of coping and help inform choices that will improve lifestyle. Nowadays anxiety therapies also include non-invasive technologies to help your brain and nervous system function in a much more steady and balanced way.  If you’re unsure whether you have to live anxiety or whether anxiety therapy could help you live with greater ease, then please read on as I explain more about anxiety and anxiety therapy appraoches.

Anxiety Therapy as a way to Understand the Nervous System

Anxiety and fear are adaptive emotions that everyone experiences at times. They are neurochemical and nervous system responses designed to help keep us safe and calculate risk around new situations and people. These physiological reactions can also be accompanied by fear based thoughts, worries and behaviours also intended to help us predict, be prepared or stay safe.

Anxiety is part of our survival and  ‘fight or flight,’ response and we need it. It is when the fear response is out of balance, disproportionate and unable to be calmed that we run into problems. It is the role of the parasympathetic nervous system to help us rebalance after stress and this can be helped significantly by good self care routines, calming practices, good relationships and a balanced perspective.


Helping your body and mind interpret the world differently

For some people fear and anxiety responses are no longer adapting appropriately to the needs of each situation and have become dysregulated, habitual reactions in excess of what is necessary. It can can be a sign that the brain and nervous system are incorrectly using past, negative experiences to predict current circumstances, even when they are different. The body and mind are attempting to seek safety and resolve threat but they are unintentionally being over vigilant for signs of threat, which tends to keep anxiety switched on. 

It is also necessary to say that we are all different and that we are all born with a different brain and nervous system. Some people are naturally more sensitive than others in their responses to threat signals. Despite this, a sensitive nervous system can still be supported to find balance and ways of coping that are in support of any natural disposition.

Where an anxiety response has become excessive, irrational and persistent then it may be categorised as an anxiety disorder and this level of anxiety can interfere significantly with daily living and enjoyment of life. Sometimes  people are aware that their anxiety is irrational but feel powerless to stop the physical response. Anxiety therapy can be very helpful with changing feelings, anxiety responses, coping strategies, outlook and circumstances.

Three Approaches to Anxiety Therapy

History and Narrative

Many therapy approaches help people to come to terms with the past and validate the origins of their anxiety. This helps with insight and understanding and is done within the context of a safe therapeutic relationship. Where anxiety stems from internpersonal expereinces then these can also be worked through within the therapy relationship.

Body Based approaches

Having methods for helping your nervous system regain and maintain resilience can be key in managing anxiety and reducing anxiety symptoms. Where anxiety reactions are disproportionate to current circumstances then it can take a while for the brain and nervous system to let go of old self protective habits. Approaches such as diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, cold water swimming, neurofeedback, brainspotting, Feldenkrais and many other body/mind approaches can gently help to change the way your nervous system functions in the long term. These approaches directly impact the brain and nervous system and can shift areas of the brain that cannot be changed through a talking therapy approach. When it comes to anxiety or fear which has been with you for a long time or trauma reactions, body based approaches are considered superior to talking therapy approaches. Please read more about why in my blog post: ‘Alternative to therapy’.

Coping for ongoing stress

In some instances stressful situations are ongiong, so strategies to help engage the parasympathetic nervous system can be helpful for feeling you have the capacity to cope. Anxiety therapy can be a way to have support while you find ways to prioritise self care, make changes that are possible to make and maintain a balanced outlook for your situation. It can also help you to accept those circumstances which perhaps cannot be changed.


Change focussed approaches

Shorter term change based approaches such as CBT or medium to long term ones such as Schema Therapy can help with understanding any thoughts or coping strategies that you may have adopted over time that unintentionally keep your anxiety in place. If you are motivated and ready to make changes then this anxiety therapy approach can help you feel in control. 


 Some therapists trained in numerous approaches can help you by offering a combination of these approaches to improve copig, perspective and how your nervous system regulates the anxiety response.

Anxiety Therapy at BodyMindBrain- the combinations I offer

In my therapy practice I target this problem area with a number of approaches to make sure you get the best result.

Psychotherapy can help you to understand more about the possible origins of your anxiety or anxiety disorder. This involves an exploration of past experiences and understanding the history of your anxiety as well as how it shows up in the present day and impacts how you go about your life. Building a clear picture in this way can help with self awareness and familiarity with some of what is driving your anxiety. It can also form a basis for planning for changes or implementing helpful strategies for finding calm and balance. My main approaches are Schema Therapy and CBT.

NeurOptimal Neurofeedback is also very helpful as aspart of an anxiety therapy approach, especially the physiological symptoms of anxiety because it directly trains the brain to harness its ability to self regulate. If you have been living with anxiety for a long time then it is likely that your brain and nervous system need a little help getting back to resilient functioning. The brain continues to learn and change over our lifetime and it is this neuroplasticity that neurofeedback helps with. Our brain and nervous system are designed to rise to challenges and then to let go again so it is this grounded flexibility that it tends to recapture for people.

Breathwork uses different breathing techniques to help regulate the nervous system. We know that the vagus nerve, the seat of our parasympathetic nervous system and our ability to return to calm after stress has nerve endings throughout our respiratory system and that breathing in certain ways changes activates parasympathetic activity. Breathing is also free and accessible all the time so it is a very handy way to regulate the nervous system and emotions 24/7.

Brainspotting is a therapy technique that targets how the brain processes emotions and memories. Using eye position to find activated ‘brain spots’ for emotions, sensation or sensations in the body means that the brain can be harnessed to balance the source of anxiety in the deeper brain areas.