Counselling for Anxiety

Karmela Jones


Karmela Jones is an integrative counsellor and psychotherapist with a private practice - Mixed Emotions Counselling. She is working out of Kensington Counselling Rooms and Pimlico Psychotherapists and Counsellors. If you would like to connect with Karmela to discuss anything in this article, please feel free to do so on


All people experience anxiety at different times in our lives, whether about making a big decision, dealing with an unexpected event or being exposed to a threatening situation. Whilst unpleasant to experience, anxiety is a normal emotion and can even be useful at times. Like other emotional experiences, it can give us information about how we feel about what is happening in our lives. But what happens when we can’t sort out the feelings around our anxiety? What if our anxiety seems irrational or overwhelming? What if our anxiety becomes unmanageable and starts to impact our quality of life? If this is happening to you, it may be a good time to seek out a therapist and get counselling for your anxiety.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is normal response to a dangerous or stressful situation and should pass when the situation passes. Many people experience racing thoughts, trouble sleeping, irritability and trouble concentrating when feeling anxious. There can also be many physical symptoms of anxiety, such as racing heart, butterflies in the stomach, needing the toilet more often, chest or stomach muscles tightening or feeling sick or dizzy. Sometimes these symptoms come quickly and unexpectedly and seem to peak within 10 minutes or so, and this may be a panic attack. Panic attacks can be very frightening and sometimes push people to seek urgent medical care, but they soon find out these symptoms are not due to a physical ailment. Many clients come to counselling after they were instructed by a medical professional that their symptoms cannot be explained medically.

There are many different types of anxiety. Phobias, for example, are when a specific situation that is not actually dangerous triggers intense feelings of anxiety as if it were very threatening. Generalised anxiety, on the other hand, is characterised by a persistent sense of doom or dread, frequent worry and fearfulness, and often recurrent physical symptoms as described above. There are also many other specific forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety, death anxiety, health anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for example.

When should I get counselling for anxiety?

If these anxious feelings do not pass when the situation passes, or if the triggering situation is on-going for a long time (such as a chronic medical condition, for example), and it is persistent or overwhelming it can have a big impact on your life. It can affect your relationships, your work, your self-esteem, and your overall sense of well-being. Your physical health can also be impacted if you are losing sleep or experiencing too much stress. If you feel that anxiety is having a big impact on your life, isn’t going away and you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might be a good time to seek help.

How can counselling help anxiety?

Counselling can help you to understand your anxiety as well as develop ways of addressing and managing it. With a therapist, you can explore how the anxiety is affecting your life, what the triggers are and what the root causes might be. Noticing that something triggers anxious feelings can provide an opportunity to explore what that something really means to us and encourage us to assess our resources, opportunities, and vulnerabilities, and possibly help us discover and process unresolved feelings from past experiences. As with any counselling, a therapist will work with you as an individual, collaborating with you to find what works best for you.

From the beginning of the counselling we may focus on finding ways to deal with acute anxiety using breathing and grounding techniques. Later on, the therapeutic process focuses on what is behind the anxiety. In the anxiety counselling, you will explore your current triggers and past experiences that led to having anxieties in your life.

How do I find a therapist to help with anxiety? 

Whilst many therapists work with anxiety issues, there are many different approaches to counselling for anxiety and you can find a therapist that works in a way that suits you, depending on your needs and what feels right for you. For example, some people find CBT helpful, where you focus on understanding the way your thought and behaviour patterns contribute to your anxiety and develop specific, often practical, strategies to address it. Others find a relationally-focused approach suits them, where building a strong, healthy relationship with therapist is central and allows you to explore how you relate to others. Another approach is to explore existential questions around life and death and focus on developing your own sense of meaning and purpose to ground you in an uncertain world. If you prefer to approach your anxiety from the perspective of your body you may choose Gestalt therapy, Dance and Movement Therapy or other body therapies. Yet another approach might be to focus on processing unresolved past experiences and healing emotional wounds so that you can move forward with less anxiety about the present and future (see our blog in psychoanalytic approach). Although many therapists providing counselling for anxiety work from a specific framework, most will adapt to work addresses the areas on which you want to focus. You can and should ask a therapist about their approach and see if what they say makes sense to you and feels right, even if you’re not sure exactly what you want or need.

Do take a look around our practices in Pimlico or Kensington  and if you have any questions or would like any more information do get in contact with our practitioners.

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