Anxiety, Stress, Panic & Phobias

Feeling stressed or anxious is a very common experience and usually a normal response to challenging life stressors like a job interview, exams, birth of a child etc. Anxiety is the product of:

  • A physical response to real or perceived threat or overwhelming challenge
  • Thoughts that centre on worry, apprehension and fear

It is unrealistic to expect to never feel anxious or even to never feel intense anxiety. However, even within a healthy range stress and anxiety can feel distressing to the extent that people can become anxious about being anxious. Learning to better regulate stress and anxiety so it works for you can be very useful; for example, a little anxiety about a job interview or exam can motivate us to prepare more effectively.

At the more pronounced end individuals can feel anxiety to such an extent that it significantly disrupts their life. This can result in feelings of hopelessness and depression. At Integrative Psychology we aim to help the individual to better understand and regulate not only anxiety but their emotional responses to experiencing anxiety. Understanding anxiety as a complex response is crucial. For some individuals this may include addressing past trauma and complex current circumstances and relationships that may be serving to maintain high levels of anxiety.

In terms of anxiety disorders, there are a number of specific anxiety disorders: Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder  (also known as Social Phobia: fear of public embarrassment and scrutiny), Agoraphobia, and Specific Phobia. Each disorder is characterised by specific triggers, thoughts and behaviours (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th ed, 2013). A supportive and in-depth assessment and tailored treatment plan is the first step in the therapeutic process.

Anxiety vs. Panic

Although anxiety and panic can have profound effects on someone’s life these conditions are also very treatable. There are a number of differences between anxiety and panic: anxiety is characterised by frequent mild to severe worry about negative experiences occurring and mild to strong physical changes in the body such as sweating, increased heart rate and rapid swallow breathing or slow swallow breathing.  In Panic there is less thought occurring and more intense physical distress, for example people may feel that they cannot breathe, experience profound dizziness and their senses may change dramatically. An individual can experience frequent anxiety with intermittent episodes of panic. Alternatively, people can have anxiety without panic and panic without frequent anxiety. A therapist will help you to understand the difference between anxiety and panic and treat one or both of these conditions as appropriate. A range of approaches can be effective in treating anxiety and panic tailored to the type of symptoms experienced.

Phobias

A phobia is usually a clear fear of a specific object or social situation. This is different to general anxiety which can attach to a wide and changing array of objects, people or events. Examples of common phobias are giving presentations, air travel, heights, small spaces, and insects.

At Integrative Psychology we use a range of approaches to treat anxiety, panic and phobias: relaxation training, assertiveness training, self-esteem and self-understanding approaches, inter-personal neurobiology, somatic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma therapy and graduated exposure therapy, otherwise known as systematic desensitisation.

Counselling

We prioritise the use of effective psychological therapies in the context of a quality therapeutic relationship.

The relationship between you and the therapist involves being supported in an alliance focused on your healing and growth. The therapeutic relationship allows for the direct experience of a healthy relationship that promotes self-inquiry and exploration in a non-judgmental manner. The therapeutic relationship promotes self-understanding and relationship skills such as healthy boundary setting, assertion, self-esteem, and the capacity to give and receive care, while addressing the specific issues you wish to resolve.

At Integrative Psychology we provide counseling services for a wide range of issues including but not limited to:


Feel free to contact us if you have a particular request or issue you would like help with and we will do our best to match you with the right psychologist.

Family counselling (otherwise known as Family Therapy) involves a number of family members together attending counselling to address a range of issues, which can often be long standing. Family therapy can be directed at assisting a family to clarify and better manage relationships amongst family members as well as assisting families in dealing with major changes or distressing circumstances or events, such as grief and loss or mental or physical illness. Dealing with past family based trauma can also be a focus.

As with all therapies a counsellor is there to assist the individual, couple or family to gain their own clarity about a situation and develop better ways of managing that situation. The counsellor is not there to guide the individual or family members toward values or beliefs personally held by the counsellor. Counselling is non-judgemental and respectful at all times.

At Integrative Psychology our therapists are trained in a variety of approaches to assist with a range of relationships.

Group therapy can be a very effective way of overcoming feelings of isolation and hopelessness while facilitating change in a relatively short duration of time. Group therapy can differ according to length, size of group and criteria for inclusion. Groups may also differ in the degree of group participation required; generally therapeutic groups require greater group participation than psycho-education seminars and workshops. If you have any concerns about group participation please discuss these with the nominated contact person for the group you are considering, prior to registering for that group program.

Group programs available at Integrative Psychology:

  • Love more, fight less- group therapy for groups
  • Self-esteem, confidence and assertion
  • Life after an eating disorder
  • Interpersonal group psychotherapy

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