ABOUT THE ADULT ANXIETY & TRAUMA CLINIC
The clinic provides thorough evaluations of adults who report anxiety and trauma-related symptoms. The evaluation includes structured diagnostic interviews, behavioral observation, and completion of standardized questionnaires.
The clinic provides individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety to adults. In clinical trials, CBT has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Progress will be assessed on a regular basis with standardized measures.
Adults diagnosed with anxiety disorders may benefit from the combination of CBT and medication. The clinic does not offer pharmacological treatments but will provide referrals to psychiatrists for medication consultation.
For information and referral, call the clinic at 303.871.3306.
How common is anxiety?
An estimated 40 million adults – or 18% -- are affected by anxiety disorder per year (see http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/anxiety.cfm for additional information on the estimated prevalence rates reported here). Anxiety can co-occur with other problems, such as depression and substance abuse (e.g., alcohol, drugs).
What does anxiety look like?
Some anxiety is part of the daily human experience. In fact, mild anxiety can often help motivate us to take action when needed. For example, mild anxiety before a presentation at school or work is quite typical and may help people prepare for these important activities. However, for some people anxiety becomes serious and persistent, leading to problems with functioning at work and/or in relationships. Problematic anxiety can cause physical discomfort (such as shortness of breath, sweating, the sensation of a fast-beating heart) and stressful thoughts (such as fears that the situation is unfixable and even that one might die). Given that anxiety is physically and emotionally uncomfortable, people often begin avoiding things or people or situations that make them anxious. Avoidance often leads to greater and greater anxiety. In turn, as people experience more and more anxiety, they avoid more and more.
What types of anxiety disorders are there?
While anxiety disorders share much in common (such as the anxiety-avoidance cycle), there are several types of disorders that are associated with unique complaints from clients. In this clinic, we specialize in treating five types of anxiety:
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Our clinic has a special emphasis on trauma-related anxiety. Epidemiological studies suggest that trauma exposure – including events such as child abuse, assault, domestic violence, natural disasters, serious motor vehicle accidents – is actually quite prevalent. Some studies estimate that as many as 72% of American adults have been exposed to one or more traumatic events. In their lifetimes, about 5% of men and 10% of women are diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affecting approximately 7.7 million Americans. People coping with PTSD experience problems with hyper-arousal (e.g., startling very easy), intrusive thoughts (e.g., memories or nightmares of the event), and avoidance (e.g., avoiding people and places that are reminders of the event).
Social Anxiety Disorder. Social anxiety disorder – also called social phobia – is characterized by overwhelming anxiety in daily social situations. Social anxiety can be limited to certain types of situations (such as speaking in front of groups) or can be quite general and cause people to avoid lots of different situations. Social anxiety affects about 15 million American adults; both men and women are equally likely to be diagnosed with this disorder.
Panic Disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks which start off feeling as if they “come out of the blue”. Panic attacks include physical symptoms (such as sweaty palms, racing heart) as well as troubling thoughts (such as worries that one will die or that the anxiety might never end).
Specific Phobias. Specific phobias are characterized by excessive fear of a thing or situation that is not actually dangerous in and of itself. For example, a person might have a specific phobia of dogs or heights or spiders. Specific phobias are twice as common in women as men, affecting an estimated 19.2 million American adults.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive worry about daily problems and issues, such as friends, money, success, work, health and so forth. This anxiety becomes overwhelming and disrupts their work and/or relationships. This disorder is diagnosed in twice as many women as men, affecting an estimated 6.8 million American adults.
Can anxiety be effectively treated?
A growing body of research shows that anxiety can be effectively treated. Treatment guidelines developed by a number of professional organizations recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy. Adults who are severely anxious might also benefit from psychiatric medications in addition to cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Dozens of clinical trials have shown that adults treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy are more likely to show symptom reduction and improved functioning than untreated adults. Typically, cognitive-behavioral therapy involves 12 to 16 sessions of individual treatment. For people coping with a range of stressors and problems, a longer course of therapy may be needed.
What is cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is grounded in basic research on learning and thinking. The basic idea is that our emotions, including anxious mood, can be altered by changing patterns of thinking and behavior. Typical cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on (1) thought patterns such as the things we say to ourselves when we encounter anxiety-provoking situations; and (2) behaviors such as the strategies we use to deal with stressful situations, including avoidance. In addition, cognitive-behavioral therapy emphasizes decreasing avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations, people, things, thoughts, and feelings. Cognitive-behavioral therapy does not attempt to uncover the past to improve the present, but rather focuses on learning new skills and behaviors to cope with life’s challenges that trigger anxious feelings.
What is expected of me as a client doing cognitive-behavioral therapy at your clinic?
Typically, therapy begins with one session per week. Clients are expected to attend scheduled sessions and will be asked to do personal projects between appointments. Personal projects involve practicing the skills taught in therapy and monitoring important information, such as your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Clients are expected to contact the therapist at least 24 hours in advance to cancel or reschedule appointments; cancellations less than 24 hours in advance or no-shows are charged the usual rate for a session. Because cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety involves learning and practicing new skills, missing sessions can interfere with progress. Missing too many sessions means we’re not actually doing therapy! Thus, the attendance policy for this clinic states that when clients miss 4 sessions in a row for any reason, therapy will be ended and the client will receive referrals for other services.
What can I expect of my therapist?
Clients can expect therapists to come to appointments prepared to do therapy guided by the cognitive-behavioral interventions best supported by research. Therapists will be professional in all interactions and will make referrals as needed.