According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million American adults (roughly 18% of the population) have an anxiety disorder. Despite the fact that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. Anxiety has the uncanny ability to attach itself to the things that matter most to us – our jobs, our relationships, our self-esteem. It also tricks us into believing that if we just think harder about the thing we’re worried about, we can fix it. It traps us in the past or future, and prevents us from living life in the present. Anxiety can make every moment feel like an uphill battle.
When we are anxious, we spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to reason with our thoughts or get away from them. In the process, we exhaust ourselves, depleting the resources we have to put towards the things that matter to us. The issue with our thoughts is not that they exist, but that we get into a power struggle with them. When we fail to view our thoughts as thoughts and instead see them as fact, we get pushed around by our brains. Our thoughts take us on a wild goose chase to the past or future, and we are no longer in the present. When we’re not in the present, we are disconnected—from our bodies, our emotions, our loved ones and our values. Since we are thinking and feeling beings, we cannot stop our thoughts entirely. However, we can change our relationship to them. Anxiety therapy helps you learn to observe your thoughts and emotions in the present moment, creating space to think and behave in news ways.
When we are present, we have the ability to observe our thoughts and see them for what they are: stories, not facts. In therapy, we’ll work on cultivating your ability to get off thoughts-as-fact autopilot. We’ll spend time exploring the areas that anxiety has sunk its teeth into, and gain a cohesive understanding of how that came to be. We’ll spend time getting acquainted with what is happening in the present—the stories your mind is telling you, the emotions that are happening in your body—and teach you skills to tap into present-focused awareness outside of session. Over time, cultivating this ability to be present changes the neural pathways in our brain. It gives us choice where we once felt we had none: the choice to observe our thoughts instead of get stuck on them, to fully feel our emotions without fear and to take daily action that leads to a meaningful life.
I have advanced training in both Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). Both AEDP and EFT focus on our present moment emotional experience, and the difficulties that arise when we judge our emotional experience, try to think our way out of it, or block it altogether. AEDP and EFT are based in attachment-theory, which essentially says we do the things for reasons that makes sense based on our personal and family histories. I believe in this whole-heartedly and make it a point to never shame or judge my clients (since I know we are all doing the best we can at any given time). I also believe in being with my clients in a real way, and I share my experience with them openly and authentically. If you want a therapist who will be in it with you from start to finish (and isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves), then we might just be a fit.