Fear And Anxiety: How Counseling Can Help

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated May 26, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dawn Brown, LPC

For many people, fear and anxiety have a way of taking over every thought and action. These feelings can make it difficult to perform everyday activities and do the necessary things for day-to-day life. While this is a struggle, it doesn’t always have to be. There are several ways to get fear and anxiety under control. One of the most common and most successful is counseling or online therapy for phobias.

You might be wondering, how does counseling rid me of fear? Although you may never be completely rid of fear, you can overcome it. Anxiety is much the same, especially in the case of anxiety disorders. The feeling or emotion of anxiety may be present from time to time, but it does not have to control your life. To get past fear and anxiety permanently, counseling is vital. 

What Is Counseling?

Counseling is a broad term used to describe the process of getting professional assistance across various health issues by improving the patient’s outlook on their health and wellness by relieving stress. Most commonly, counseling is used in the treatment for numerous mental health issues and the physical symptoms that are associated with those concerns. Anxiety disorders, depression, addiction, anger management, and relationship issues are all common reasons that counseling is sought out. If you experience any of these mental health issues, counseling can help you.

By reaching out to a counselor, you can start to work through any number of concerns that you might have. When it comes to counseling for fear and anxiety, there are a few types that might be used to help you. Learning about your options will allow you the opportunity to know what to expect and what you might ask a mental health professional about in your first meeting. The best counselor for you will listen to what you’ve researched and will consider the options you’ve brought to them, in addition to offering their own professional opinion regarding what might work best for you.

Counseling Options For Fear And Anxiety

The options for fear and anxiety counseling are many. However, there is one that is far more common than the rest: cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT. Other options include exposure therapy and hypnosis. Although these are less common, they have proven to be effective in treating fear and anxiety is some people.

A lot of a counseling type’s success is dependent on the kind of anxiety disorder you might have. Generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and other anxiety disorders may be best treated with one type of therapy. In contrast, another kind, such as severe phobias, might see success in exposure therapy. Choosing the best kind of counseling for you starts with knowing the specifics of each.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy In Counseling For Anxiety Disorders

CBT is a form of therapy that aims to rid an individual of overpowering negative thoughts that lead them to certain behaviors. Those with anxiety disorders tend to avoid their fears in an attempt to control the environment. Although it is a way of protecting themselves, it can disrupt one’s life in a way that makes living difficult. CBT seeks to use structured sessions with a counselor to identify negative thoughts and alter the patient’s response to something more positive. Doing so helps to change the person’s actions in response.

There are a few different ways in which CBT can be done. For many, sessions are one on one – patient and counselor. Other times, a counselor leads a group in cognitive behavioral therapy. The counselor and patient must discuss their options together to find the best form of CBT for each case. After determining the best kind of sessions for you, your therapist or counselor will help to draw out the negative thoughts so that they can be changed.

Change occurs through the sessions themselves as well as with homework. When the therapy is taken seriously, and homework is done as assigned, patients complete cognitive behavioral therapy in just a few months. Severe cases may take longer, but CBT has been proven to be successful in altering the mind and providing the necessary tools to handle situations that once led to debilitating fear and anxiety.

Exposure Therapy For Anxiety Disorders

Although considered a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy works to desensitize individuals to their fears by exposing what they are afraid of little by little over some time. For example, if a person has arachnophobia, a counseling session might include keeping a small spider across the room from the patient. In the next session, the spider might be a little closer. The process would continue until the fear is no longer one that controls the patient’s life.

This kind of therapy also works with other fears and anxiety. For instance, with a fear of public speaking, a counselor might have the patient prepare a short speech to recite during a session. The following session might involve one additional listener. By the end of the exposure therapy, the patient might be reciting the speech to a room full of people. Working slowly to the end goal helps the person to get there on their own time, but they can get there. Although it seems daunting to face your fears in this manner, avoiding your fear altogether can amplify it.

Hypnosis To Treat Anxiety Disorder

Perhaps you’ve seen it in movies or on tv, but never imagined using hypnosis to treat your anxiety disorder. If this is the case, consider the facts surrounding hypnosis. The idea behind hypnosis is that when your focus is concentrated on one thought, other thoughts become less prevalent. This indicates that both the patient and the counselor must work together to develop that specific focus.

An individual that is using hypnosis for treatment is one that must remain focused. They cannot fall asleep despite the counselor’s efforts to create a relaxed environment. When hypnosis is used as anxiety disorder treatment, the patient will likely reveal their deepest needs and desires, in addition to each of their causes of anxiety. By identifying the root of every source of anxiety, a patient and counselor can then work to aim the focus on lessening that anxiety.

Do I Have To Take Medication To Overcome Fear And Anxiety?

One of the great things about counseling for fear and anxiety relief is that medication is not usually necessary. Although generalized anxiety disorders and similar conditions can be helped with antidepressants at times, it is not required of every individual. Speaking with your mental healthcare professional about the possibility of medication can help you to determine if it is right for you.

However, if you want to avoid using medication, treating your fear and anxiety with counseling is an excellent course of action. Many doctors use therapy as a starting point and then add medication into the mix if it’s needed. Get in touch with a counselor or therapist to see if counseling alone might help you before seeking medicinal relief from your symptoms.

What Does Life After Fear And Anxiety Look Like?

Is there such a thing as a fearless and anxiety-free life? Truthfully, the answer is no. Feeling afraid and anxious are normal emotions for all people that cannot be eliminated. However, for those with anxiety disorders or phobias, life can get much more straightforward with proper treatment. After CBT or other forms of counseling, fear and anxiety are manageable.

What does managing fear and anxiety look like? When fear and anxiety are managed, the mind no longer attempts to control every factor surrounding it. This means that you won’t feel it necessary to drive across the country for a short stay when your fear of flying is no longer as prominent. Others might feel better about being in the presence of their co-workers, thus leading to greater job success. For those with a generalized anxiety disorder might be driven to find a positive light in any given situation. It also means that you understand that you don’t have to be perfect. Imagine the relief you might feel if you were to experience this kind of fear and anxiety management.

Someone that has successfully gone through counseling for their anxiety disorders will likely have learned how to handle anxiety healthily when it does arise. Rather than focusing on that anxious feeling, he or she will pause so that they can relax their minds. They may count to ten or do some meditation. Sometimes it may be necessary to talk to someone about your anxiety, but moving past your anxiety means it will no longer put a pause on your life.

For many people, anxiety disorders are very nearly something of the past. If you, like many, are experiencing disruption to your life due to fear and anxiety, seek help. Counseling may allow you to live a life in which that fear and anxiety don’t prevent you from doing things you most desire.

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.