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Anxiety Counselling Brisbane

Building skills to help you reach your goals.

    a common issue

    What is anxiety?

    While stress and anxious feelings are quite normal responses to times when we feel under pressure, this discomfort will usually dissolve once the stressful event has passed.

    However, people with anxiety disorders are more likely to have intense, excessive and persistent worry about everyday situations. These worries are experienced as overwhelming, interfere with daily functioning, are difficult to control and out of proportion to the actual danger. Avoidance (of places or situations in an attempt to prevent the associated fear or worry) is a common behaviour of anxiety.

    This is where anxiety counselling can be helpful to reduce anxiety and its symptoms and improve your life.

    Signs and symptoms of anxiety


    • Panic attacks
    • Racing heart
    • Tightening of the chest
    • Rapid breathing
    • Restlessness
    • Feeling agitated and edgy


    • Excessive fear
    • Worry
    • Catastrophizing or obsessive thinking


    • Avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on other important areas of your life.

    There are several different types of anxiety disorders

    Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

    Excessive worry about health, work, finances, relationships or other life situations often accompanied by a persistent fear that something bad is going to happen. Although the reason for the intense feelings of anxiety may be difficult to identify, the fears are very real and often impact on the individual’s ability to focus on the tasks at hand.

    Panic Disorder

    Involving sudden, intense and unprovoked feelings of terror or dread. People who suffer from this condition often develop fears relating to when and where the next panic attack will occur and this can result in withdrawal and restriction of their activities.


    Persistent, excessive and unrealistic fear of an object, person, animal, activity or situation.  A person experiencing a phobia will either try to avoid whatever is triggering the fear or endure it with great anxiety and distress.

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    Is characterised by a repetitive pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions). For example repetitive hand washing or cleaning to avoid germs.  These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress.

    Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

    Excessive fear of being judged, embarrassed or criticised in social situations leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, self-consciousness and potentially depression. If anxiety arises in social situations but there are an absence of symptoms in more solitary activities, then social anxiety may be the issue.

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

    Triggered by a terrifying event, PTSD develops when fear, anxiety and memories of a traumatic event don’t subside over time. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety as well as invasive thoughts about the event.

    Who would benefit from anxiety counselling?

    There are effective treatments for these disorders. The majority of people with an anxiety disorder are likely to respond well to evidence based psychological treatments for anxiety. These treatments provide opportunities to learn how to work with the disorder so that it no longer controls you.

    What kinds of therapy could be used for anxiety counselling?

    The type of treatment used for anxiety counselling will be tailored to the person’s specific symptoms and concerns. For mild symptoms your mental health professional might suggest lifestyle changes, such as regular physical exercise and reducing your stress levels. The treatment for an obsessive-compulsive disorder will be different from that of someone who is receiving counselling for panic attacks.

    Evidence-based treatments such as EMDR, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are well recognised as effective therapeutic interventions. These may be used as stand alone therapies or therapy may draw from several of the above frameworks. The approach would be determined by the individual’s diagnosis and the severity of symptoms.

    Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

    EMDR therapy can help with most forms of anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks and social anxiety. EMDR unblocks emotional processes that have become stuck due to overwhelming distress or discomfort. Patients are asked to identify specific memories that relate to the current anxiety triggers. Using the eight step protocol and addressing past experiences, present triggers and future templates, EMDR targets fearful events linked directly to the anxiety in order to resolve the negative experiences, beliefs, thoughts and feelings.

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    Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

    Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a behavioural therapy that has been shown to be effective for a variety of anxiety disorders. ACT works with the thoughts, emotions and behaviours associated with the anxiety to address negative thinking, overwhelming emotions and ineffective behavioural patterns.  It is a skill based therapy that incorporates your values in life and acting in ways that match your values.

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    Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a therapeutic approach developed in the 1970s that combines meditation and yoga.  MBSR has over 40 years of evidence supporting its effectiveness for managing anxiety. Research shows that individual resilience can be built by learning how to solve problems, improve emotional regulation skills and become more consciously aware of your thoughts and feelings (rather than being on autopilot).

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    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Research has found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT to be effective in treating SAD, GAD, phobias, and panic disorders, among other conditions.

    The premise of CBT is that your thoughts—not your current situation—affect how you feel and subsequently behave. So, the goal of CBT is to identify and understand your negative thinking and ineffective behavior patterns and replace them with more realistic thoughts and effective actions and coping mechanisms.

    During this process, your therapist acts like a coach teaching you helpful strategies. For example, you might do a lot of “black-and-white” thinking, where you assume that things are all bad or all good. Instead, you would replace those thoughts with the more realistic perception that there are many shades of grey in between.

    It takes practice to use these strategies. Once you start to recognize your anxiety and your triggers, you can learn to apply the coping skills that you learn in CBT to manage fear, panic, and worry.

    Note: MWT does not provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Exposure Therapy

    Exposure Therapy is one of the most common CBT methods used to treat a variety of anxiety disorders, including specific phobias, SAD, and PTSD. The basic premise behind exposure therapy is that if you’re afraid of something, the best way to conquer it is head-on.

    During exposure therapy, your therapist will slowly introduce you to anxiety-producing objects or situations. This is often done using a technique known as “systematic desensitization,” which involves three steps:

    Step 1 – Relaxation techniques

    Your therapist will teach you relaxation training to help combat your anxiety. Examples of relaxation training include progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, and guided imagery.

    Step 2 – Create A List

    Create a list of your anxiety-provoking triggers, ranking them in terms of intensity.

    Step 3 – Expose

    In this final step, you’ll gradually work your way through your listed anxiety-provoking objects or situations, using the relaxation techniques when necessary.

    There are several ways your psychologist may choose to expose you to your anxiety-provoking stimuli. Here are the most common:

    Imaginal exposure

    In this type of exposure, you’ll be instructed to vividly imagine your anxiety-provoking object or situation.

    In vivo exposure

    In this method, you’ll face your anxiety-provoking object or situation in real life. So with this type of exposure, a person with social anxiety might be instructed to give a speech in front of an audience.

    Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can help to keep the symptoms under control so that the individual is sufficiently stabilised to be able to engage effectively with counselling.

    Note: MWT does not provide Exposure Therapy

    What kinds of difficulties would result in anxiety?

    There are many and varying factors that may increase vulnerability to anxiety. These include:


    Children who endured abuse or trauma or witnessed traumatic events are at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder at some point in life. Exposure to traumatic events in adulthood can also increase risk for anxiety disorders.

    Genetics and Environment

    Anxiety disorders can run in families.  Vulnerability to anxiety is influenced not only by genetics but also by environment.  Exposure to the way significant attachment figures manage anxiety will model strategies children learn in managing their own experience of anxiety.


    A big event or a build-up of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety — for example, a death in the family, work stress or ongoing worry about finances can erode resilience and overload the nervous system.

    Drugs or alcohol

    Drug or alcohol use or misuse or withdrawal can cause or worsen anxiety.

    What happens during treatment?

    Regardless of the specific disorder, the underlying processes that drive anxiety often follow a similar pattern. People with anxiety tend to react to unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and situations in a more extreme way and may try to manage those reactions by avoiding triggers. Unfortunately, this type of avoidance only serves to reinforce fears and worries. Therapy addresses negative thinking, avoidance behaviours and skills to work more adaptively with anxiety as it arises.

    The goal of all therapeutic approaches is to help you understand why you feel the way you do, what your triggers are and to build skills to support your ability to respond more adaptively to fear or worry.

    What to expect from therapy

    A common misunderstanding about therapy is that you’ll immediately start to feel better. Sometimes this is the case, but initially you may feel worse before you feel better. Surprisingly, this is often a sign of progress and if you think about it, it makes sense.

    When you make the decision to enter into therapy, it’s often because you haven’t been able to work through your anxiety on your own. Therapy involves exploring your anxiety and the reasons behind it. This can cause a temporary spike in your anxiety.

    Therapy should never be thought of as a quick fix. It’s a process that’s unique to each individual. The type of therapy you need, the skills that you learn, and how long you’re in therapy depends entirely on the type of anxiety you have and the severity of your symptoms.

    It’s important to understand that though the process won’t always feel good, it will be completely worthwhile in the end.

    How many sessions would treatment go for?

    The length of therapy will also depend on the type and severity of the anxiety disorder. In many cases significant improvement can occur within 8 to 10 sessions.

    Dark Clouds

    How Mind Wellness Therapy can help with your anxiety.

    Anxiety can be treated by Mind Wellness Therapy through a series of counselling sessions to support the management of anxiety.

    Therapy identifies underlying causes of your worries and fears as well as empowering you with strategies to cope with future episodes. Contact us today to start on your Mind Wellness journey.

    Call 07 3374 2770.


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