Research suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is by far the most effective treatment approach for addressing concerns about anxiety and fear. It is important to note that there are many types of anxiety, ranging from excessive worrying to specific fears to panic attacks. Thus, it is important to have your specific anxiety concerns evaluated carefully to clarify what type of anxiety you are suffering from.

All forms of anxiety involve increased physiological arousal that many patients find uncomfortable, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or muscle tension. Because anxious individuals need to reduce this arousal, a fundamental part of CBT for anxiety involves developing relaxation skills to relieve patients of these uncomfortable symptoms. There are many forms of relaxation training which can be helpful, including diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation. We use all of these approaches as part of our regular practice with anxious individuals.

The next component of CBT for anxiety involves coping with pessimistic, future-oriented thinking. Worry and fear are driven by the concern that something may happen in the future that is perceived to be uncomfortable or distressing. For example, the worrier may spend an excessive amount of time worrying about their finances, relationships, and health. Although future-oriented thinking is important in planning and being prepared for life’s challenges, excessively anticipating future events can impair your functioning and quality of life. Our treatments, therefore, help anxious individuals develop strategies to address future-oriented thinking and help patients become more grounded in the present moment.

Lastly, anxiety disorders also involve a problematic behavioral pattern called avoidance. Anxious individuals often avoid specific situations or activities to help relieve anxiety. For example, individuals with social anxiety may avoid participating in meetings or classes for fear of embarrassment or negative evaluation. Individuals who suffer from panic attacks may avoid malls or crowds for fear of having a panic attack. Behavioral avoidance needs to be addressed if patients are to overcome these fears. Exposure-based exercises are useful in helping patients gradually approach these situations and learn how to cope with the fear they experience while engaged in them. The approach is paced and is designed to help patients gradually build confidence and reduce anxiety in situations that had been previously avoided.

Our Locations
Providence Location
1075 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02908
East Greenwich Location
1598 South County Trail
East Greenwich, RI 02818
P: (401) 369-9224
F: (401) 369-9275