Anxiety & Stress Management
Stress and anxiety is one of the most common reasons people seek psychotherapy. Everybody experiences stress in their lives. In fact, a certain amount of stress or worry is not only normal but also helpful to us, as it encourages us to be more productive, meet deadlines, arrive to places on time, and avoid harm in our environment. Many common phobias involve dangerous creatures that are sometimes poisonous, like snakes and spiders, and this type of anxiety has helped humans survive for years.
Unfortunately, not all stress is “good stress.” Some people experience frequent or very intense stress, anxiety or worry that interferes with their lives. This type of stress can have a negative impact on work, relationships, and physical health. Many people who experience excessive amounts of stress complain of poor sleep, stomach upset or nausea, headaches, racing heart/shortness of breath, and muscle tension. Sometimes people have anxiety due to a particular type of scenario, such as being in social settings or driving over a bridge. Other times the experience of anxiety can feel much more diffuse.
In some cases, the cause of anxiety is quite clear. For example, if someone experiences a traumatic life event (e.g. being a victim of sexual or other assault, having a near death experience, etc.), they commonly experience anxiety in the aftermath of such an event. In these cases, therapy helps clients work through and move beyond these traumas. Yet many times the exact cause of anxiety is not so obvious. We aim to help these clients understand the issues underlying their anxiety. We also work with clients to develop strategies to address anxiety when it arises in the moment as well as promoting self-care.
Relationships naturally require a lot of effort and energy to maintain, and even the most compatible pairs experience a number of bumps in the road during their journey together. Whether a couple experiences a “snag” in their relationship or if they have more long-standing issues, therapy can be helpful in a number of ways. Many couples choose to go to couples counseling to help work through their issues. Common issues that bring people to couples therapy include frequent arguing, infidelity, parenting issues, or some change that their relationship has endured (e.g. loss of a job, a move, etc.).
Often times, when a couple comes to therapy, they are experiencing some degree of miscommunication with one another. Communication difficulties can contribute to a lot of problems for a couple, including misunderstandings, feeling distant, and resentment. One of our primary goals in couples therapy is to help the couple communicate their thoughts, feelings and needs to one another and be heard. We aim to help couples work through disagreements more effectively so that arguments can become productive rather than harmful.
Individual therapy can also be helpful for a couple, and is frequently recommended in addition to couples therapy. Increasing self-awareness and self-reflection are often key in order for any therapy to be effective. Many times one or both partners come to realize that their own issues are contributing to the problem. Seeing a therapist individually can help resolve these issues, which in turn has a positive impact on the couple as a whole.
Sometimes clients will pursue their own therapy, where the main focus of the therapy is their relationship. Chronic relationship problems can contribute to feelings of depression, anger, anxiety and low self-worth. We aim to provide support and help clients develop new perspectives and ways to understand their relationship concerns, so that they can then work through maladaptive interactions with their partner.
Occupational & Educational Issues
Many people come to therapy due to issues related to school or work. Common complaints include conflicts with co-workers/classmates, lack of motivation, reduced productivity, uncertainty about one’s career path, writer’s or other creative “blocks”, and anxiety related to school or work performance. There is a reciprocal relationship between one’s work and emotional well-being. Difficulties at work can have a negative impact upon how you feel, which in turn leads to increased difficulties at work, as you are not able to function at your best. Unpleasant emotional states, such as anxiety and depression, are linked to impairments in concentration, making it incredibly difficult to complete tasks at an optimal level.
In therapy, our first goal is to help clients better cope with stressors related to school and work so that they can become more manageable. We also help clients identify and work through any underlying issues that may be contributing to difficulties on the job or at school. Many people find that by doing so, they are able to discover long-term solutions to problems that may have otherwise been ongoing.
Eating & Body Image Issues
Eating and body image issues are one of the common reasons people begin therapy. For many people, their relationship to their physical appearance and/or to food causes them distress. Some common symptoms include overeating, excessive dieting, preoccupation with one’s size and shape, and compulsive exercising. Since eating is an essential part of life that affects physical health, energy, and social interactions, it can be very distressing when a person is experiencing an eating concern or feels negatively about their body and appearance.
Difficulties with body image and eating frequently develop in adolescence and early adulthood and are influenced by a variety of factors, including portrayals of bodies in the media, early experiences with parents and other family members, and for some people, the experience of trauma, such as abuse or neglect. Psychotherapy can help uncover underlying issues that have contributed to the formation and maintenance of disordered eating and distorted body image so that these issues can be worked through. In addition to helping clients gain self-awareness, we also aim to facilitate the practice of more adaptive eating behaviors and a healthier self-image. Eating and body image issues are frequently intertwined with other areas of people’s lives, particularly relationships with family, romantic partners, and friends. We work with clients to help them improve relationships with others as well as their relationship to their body and self.
Here is an article that describes the connections between relationships and body image: Improving Our Body Image, Improving Our Selves.