9 Things To Look For In An Anxiety Therapist
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated March 07, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
If you struggle with anxiety, you are not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, "Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year." Anxiety can bring with it a long list of symptoms, physical, mental, and emotional. The good news is that it's treatable. If you are struggling, an anxiety therapist can help.
What Is Anxiety?
Before we cover finding a therapist for anxiety let's talk about what anxiety is. Anxiety is worry and stress. While everyone experiences anxiety in their life, some people suffer more than others. When anxiety reaches the point that it impacts your day to day life, it's time to see a therapist. Some people are unable to do the things they need to daily because of their anxiety.
Many physical symptoms come with anxiety including:
- Sleep disturbance
- Change in eating habits
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Racing thoughts
- Digestive issues
These are just a few of the more common symptoms that come with anxiety. They can be reduced or eliminated by treating your anxiety through therapy.
Are There, Anxiety Therapists?
"Anxiety therapy" or "anxiety therapist" isn't a professional title. If you are looking for someone that is purely an anxiety therapist, you may have a difficult time looking it up that way. Any licensed therapist is trained to treat people with anxiety. However, there are some therapists that may focus on working with anxiety and anxiety-related disorders more so than others. If you struggle with anxiety or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than you may want to choose a therapist for anxiety. The following are things that you should look for when choosing a therapist.
- Does Your Insurance Cover Anything?
If you have health insurance the first place you should start your search is with your insurance company. This will help you to reduce the out of the pocket amount that you are spending on therapy sessions. The cost of sessions will vary from one therapist to another, but insurance can help you save money on your sessions. Make sure you talk to your insurance company to find out what the requirements are. Many insurance companies will only cover a certain number of sessions each year, so it's important that you know what the limits are.
While you don't necessarily want to choose your therapist only based on your insurance, it can help offset some or all of the cost to therapy for your anxiety.
- Will I Need Medication And If So, How Will I Get It?
Psychologists and licensed therapists are unable to write prescriptions. While they can treat you with different therapy techniques, they will refer you to your doctor or to a psychiatrist for medications if you want to use medications or if they will be beneficial to you.
While licensed therapists can technically treat several different disorders, most will have a few areas that they specialize in. Since you are dealing with anxiety, you want to have a therapist that is experienced in treating people with it. People that don't specialize in anxiety might still be able to help you, but someone that focuses on that area is likely to be well-versed in science-backed methods for treating anxiety.
Many people offer counseling services, but not all of them are licensed to do so, Personal coaches, priests and pastors, and support group leaders may advertise that they can offer counseling services. This doesn't mean they have been properly trained in different types of therapy or in working with a particular type of problem. Make sure that you do some research to find out what type of degrees and certificates your therapist or counselor has received. This could also help you see if they have completed any specialized training that would apply to your situation.
While you might think it's good if a therapist has a long wait to get an appointment, it might not be a good thing for you. Yes, it might mean that it's a good therapist with lots of experience, but it also means that you are going to have to wait longer for an appointment when you want to be seen. When you are struggling with anxiety, it could cause a problem for you if you aren't able to get in to see your therapist when you are actually in need of an appointment. Ideally, your therapist should only take a certain number of clients so they can have room to get their patients in for an appointment when needed.
- Can You Speak With The Therapist Outside Appointments?
Some therapists are strict on only being available to their patients when they are at an appointment. Others don't mind being contacted by phone or email in between appointments when needed. If you like the idea of being able to speak to a therapist when you need instead of having to wait for an appointment, you might benefit from online therapy or counseling through email, text, or phone calls. It's an important thing to consider when choosing a therapist.
7. Where Are You Located
Discovering where your therapist is located is as simple as searching, "anxiety therapist near me" online. You don't want to choose a therapist that is far away and difficult to get to. This is another benefit of choosing online therapy. However, if you want to meet in person with a therapist you want to make sure to pay attention to where the office is located. You will also want to consider what traffic will be like if you are going to the office from your house or after work.
- What Type Of Therapy Style They Use
Many different types of therapy can be used to treat anxiety. Before you start going to sessions, you will want to find out what type of approach the therapists take towards sessions. The best therapist will use a combination of different techniques. Some of the most commonly used forms of therapy for treating anxiety include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety - This works to help people with anxiety by teaching them how to change their thoughts and behaviors. Patients learn strategies that will help them cope with their anxiety in healthy ways.
- EMDR therapy for anxiety - This type of therapy is still emerging, and while it is growing in popularity, it is not as widespread as other forms of therapy. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It works by teaching patients certain patterns to move their eyes in that will help them to reduce anxiety while also picturing non-stressful situations.
- Medication - Some medications can help people with anxiety disorder gain control while they work on learning new skills to cope with anxiety and stress.
- Biofeedback - This type of treatment works by showing people what their body's response to stress and anxiety is. As they sit in sessions, they are connected to machines that show them what their blood pressure, heart rate, and other physical body responses are. They can see what happens as they become more stressed and then how their body responds as they use techniques to lower their stress and anxiety levels. This helps them learn what they feel like when their anxiety is getting out of control and how they can feel if they keep control of it. It also helps them to identify the feelings that their efforts are working.
These are just a few options. There are many other options. Therefore, you want to talk to your therapist to see what approach they use.
- Someone You Are Comfortable With
You need to be comfortable for therapy sessions to work. If you are not comfortable with your therapist, you aren't going to trust them. It's important that you can open up to your therapist. If you don't feel you can trust them, you aren't going to reveal the things you need to in order to make the progress you need. If you start sessions with someone and can't break past feeling uncomfortable with them, then you need to find a new therapist.
Anxiety Is Treatable
The most important thing to remember is that anxiety is very treatable. The right form of treatment will differ from person to person. If you stick with the process, you will find the treatment that works the best for you. Be relentless in your quest for conquering your anxiety. There's a therapist out there that can help you improve your life by reducing your anxiety.