As a psychologist and counselor practicing in the Cary-Algonquin-Crystal Lake area of Illinois, I find that there are 21 essentials you can expect in your treatment for anxiety here.

But first, what are the symptoms of anxiety?

  1. Excessive worry that is disproportionate to the situation
  2. Muscle tension, restlessness or shakiness
  3. Palpitations, butterflies, or nervousness
  4. Being on edge, concentration problems or insomnia

If you have these symptoms you should seek counseling or psychotherapy. But if you begin treatment, what will your counselor do- how does therapy work?

1. Your therapist will ask you to explore your thought processes-the way you think. In many cases the type of thoughts you have cause your anxiety. Fearful, dreadful, pessimistic thoughts are, what I call, anxiogenic. That is they lead to anxiety.

2. You will be asked to identify major life conflicts, past and present, to determine how they may be affecting your anxiety. Often history still lingers in your present.

3. Your therapist may train you in various relaxation techniques to subdue the butterflies or worries. One such technique is the therapist guiding your imagination to condition more pleasant relaxed feelings to the anxiety-provoking stimuli.

4. The therapist may train you on how to sculpt your anxiety-provoking thinking patterns so your thoughts are not so pessimistic, scary or catastrophic.

5. You may be asked to identify a list of negative consequences resulting from your your anxious thinking processes which interfere in your life.

6. The possible benefits of herbs or medications might be explored to assess whether or not one or more might be helpful in making your life more comfortable.

7. You might be asked to consider that your anxiety has its own subconscious sales pitch which tricks you into believing that it is necessary and helpful. Some of these sales pitches convince the patient that without the active worrying, his life will be ambushed by a terrible event or catastrophe that will be unmanageable.

8. Once the sales pitch has been figured out your therapist will teach you how to dispute it so that your mind believes your disputation rather than the deceptive pitch of your anxiety.

9. Your therapist may hypnotize you so that your subconscious mind learns that you do not have to worry to protect yourself. When your subconscious believes it, so will your everyday conscious mind and the anxiety will disappear

10. The therapist may prescribe that you read and study some pamphlets or articles about anxiety and ask that you select relevant concepts to discuss with him in the session.

11. Your therapist will likely help you to develop an awareness of your relapse triggers and constructive ways to manage them.

12. You may be required to verbalize how your current living situation contributes to your anxieties and may act as a hindrance to your recovery.

13. If your living situation is seen as aggravating your anxiety, other interventions, such as marriage or family counseling, may be introduced to deal with it.

14. Your therapist will assist you in developing insight into the personal or career changes that may be needed in order to prevent a relapse of serious anxiety.

15. You may be encouraged to increase your awareness of how your upbringing may have affected you psychologically. Remember that often a traumatic past may linger or even lurk in your present.

16. Your therapist will likely support and encourage you when you begin to express relevant fear, rage and rejection relating to any abuse or neglect that you may have experienced.

17. In helping you to manage a traumatic past, your therapist may help you identify the role you played in your family,the feelings associated with it and its impact on the present.

18. The therapist may help you to identify self-defeating patterns relevant to your anxiety that exist in your present family or career situation and suggest ways of modifying them.

19. The therapist may prescribe psychological testing to expose any factors that may be neglected in isolating the causes of your anxiety.

20. You will be helped to identify sources of ongoing support and reassurance to effectively curtail and manage your anxiety.

21. If you are taking any related medications, their clinical and side effects will be monitored to be sure that they are contributing efficiently to a therapeutic outcome and not hampering it in any way.