Anxiety is the most common and treatable of all mental health conditions, despite the fact that it is one of the most uncomfortable and distressing. It is perhaps the most common reason why people attend my Downtown Vancouver therapy office.
One of the things that excites me most about helping with anxiety is that there are many possible solutions, depending on your symptoms, condition and situation. Options are a good thing. And the ultimate solution, however, is to face whatever is making you anxious. While this knowledge can be liberating, it is often terrifying for people. It is normal to need support.
If your anxiety is longstanding and entrenched take heart: Some of the best gains I have seen in counselling are among people who have “hit bottom” with regard to their anxiety and are willing and motivated to undertake therapy. With anxiety treatment, the more you put into your homework outside of sessions, the more you can expect to get out of it.
I generally utilize Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT),a research-based method for treating specific anxiety symptoms, unless my clients are seeking a different therapeutic approach. Depending on the symptoms you are experiencing, we may choose from several or most of the following CBT techniques:
An important aspect of the therapy is continuing with it between sessions. Not only do you get more value for your “therapeutic dollar,” you test what strategies are working and which ones are less successful, allowing us to streamline the therapeutic approach to meet your needs.
I also use mindfulness therapy and meditation practice as a complement to CBT. In particular, I parter with you to learn to cope with distressing and acutely uncomfortable anxiety (and related emotions and thoughts) as they arise. This is done by learning to radically accept whatever is arising in the mind or body—neither holding on to thoughts or feelings, nor pushing them away. This may be a simple concept, but it can be difficult to implement! Practice, practice, and more practice is needed on an ongoing basis. For those who want to establish a regular meditation practice, we can look at how to implement this too. I feel so strongly about mindfulness and meditation that I employ it on a daily basis in my own life.
I look forward to meeting you and partnering with you on your journey of recovery. Call or email me if you have questions or would like to set up an appointment. I look forward to hearing from you!
Self-stigmatization can be a big barrier when seeking counselling. We can move through these feelings and surprise ourselves along the way!
Recognizing over-apologizing and what to do about it.
Once we have sifted through known coping strategies, there is also the need to be specific.
Coping with the unexpected in our day-to-day.
An article about health anxiety and its relationship to the Internet.
Guest writer and counsellor Susie Merz reflects on her experience in a therapeutic flotation tank.
A sudden crisis and how I worked through it.
Talking about ways of working with worry so that it doesn’t overwhelm. A follow up article to When Worry Takes Hold, Part 1.
Some observations about worry and some options for change.
You may feel tremendous fear that your counsellor will judge you, but will they?
A rundown on one of my favourite therapies.
When we are in the throws of anxiety, we want immediate relief. How can there be a silver lining in all of this?
A best-selling self-help workbook using the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help with generalized anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety and other anxiety-related conditions. Best for those with an interest in CBT.
Practical workbook for understanding and improving assertiveness, now in its 2nd edition.
Children’s book with excellent adult appeal. The story about how a squirrel inadvertently faces his fears, with positive results.
How to use the pomodoro technique: a time-management strategy.
A self-help and educational guide about anger, from the counselling department at McGill University.
List of private master’s-level counsellors, or their interns, offering subsidized counselling. Updated quarterly.
Call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24/7. Other professionals available through this line include after-hours pharmacists, exercise professionals and dieticians
Free, self-directed online cognitive behavioural therapy.
Canada-wide, 24/7 professional phone counselling and other support options.
Web-based learning of DBT skills. Particularly useful for those without access to individualized programming, or to supplement an existing group DBT program.
Resource list, updated quarterly.
Telephone coaching for people with mild-moderate depression with or without accompanying anxiety. Coaching available in English, Cantonese, French and Punjabi. Family doctor’s referral required to access this program. Free.
App developed by the folks at Anxiety Canada to help manage anxiety symptoms and promote relaxation.
A resource list of lower-cost professional counselling options in Vancouver. Corrections and suggestions welcome.
Revised in January 2023.
Online self-help program for depression and anxiety, using cognitive behavioural principles (CBT).
From the people at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA). Scroll down for link.
National organization promoting mental health for all.
604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance
7 days a week: 7:30am-11pm. Phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues. Response times vary. Serves residents of Vancouver.
National organization providing information and extensive online resources for managing anxiety.
BC-based website offering comprehensive information on a wealth of mental health conditions and addictions concerns.
24-7 crisis service for anyone that is suicidal, thinking about suicide or for concerned friends/family. BC-wide service.
Time-limited counselling support for adults who have made a suicide attempt, or are experiencing suicidal thoughts; also offers support and education for people who are concerned about a loved one with suicidal ideation, or are grieving their loss by suicide.
Self-help guide (pdf). Not intended to replace professional help.