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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, persistent Anxiety Disorders impact “40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year.” Far from the occasional worries that normally come and go in everyday life, individuals suffering from anxiety experience “excessive, irrational fear and dread” – and they experience it much of the time.
Many people with anxiety disorders also experience shame and self-recrimination as a result of not being able to address or handle their “worry” on their own. Other people actually down-play these distressing feelings, rationalizing that “everyone must feel this way.” Although many people DO feel anxious, it is not helpful or kind for yourself or others to simply ignore it, white-knuckle your way through life, or suffer in silence. Therapy can help.
How Therapy can Help with Anxiety
Many Anxiety Disorders respond well to Cognitive Behavioral interventions which offer specific tools and tasks for symptom reduction such as:
Increasing your awareness of situations and thoughts which increase your anxiety
Increasing your ability to respond calmly and confidently to anxiety or fear provoking events
Increasing your ability to soothe yourself when feelings of anxiety arise
Decreasing self-blame associated with symptoms of anxiety
Addressing the possible underlying sources of your anxiety
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Health Anxiety
OCD is a specific type of anxiety disorder that hinges on avoiding distress through repeating a compulsive behavior or thought. This process initially relieves the distress in the short-term and the individual associates the compulsion with relief; however, in the long-term, the intense need to perform the compulsion increases the experience of anxiety overall and leaves the sufferer trapped in a never-ending cycle of chasing relief.
Health Anxiety is an anxiety disorder related to OCD in which the focus of worry is one’s health or the health of a family member.
Individuals with Health Anxiety may spend an excessive amount of time at their doctor’s offices ruling out illnesses, researching symptoms that they are having, or checking their bodies for signs of illness.
I am trained in the most effective evidence-based treatment for OCD and Health Anxiety: Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). I work with clients to interrupt and break the compulsive cycle and find real and lasting relief from anxiety.
When necessary and if/when clients are interested, I consult with and refer to local Psychiatrists to support clients in evaluating whether medications would provide additional symptom relief and support in making the difficult changes that this work requires.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Research and books such as Susan Cain’s, Quiet, have exploded the myth that there is anything wrong with introversion in children or adults. Cain states that, “introverts have a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment. Introverts tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, and think before they speak, and have a more circumspect and cautious approach to risk.”
Although some introverts may also be shy or struggle with SAD, it is crucial to understand that SAD is only diagnosed when an individual (introverted or extroverted) finds that social situations cause them marked distress, when they cannot perform their work duties or when they begin to avoid social settings for fear of experiencing anxiety.
Therapy can help individuals understand Social Anxiety and develop a set of effective strategies that can help clients reduce these symptoms and function more comfortably and effectively in their lives.