Anxiety is the anticipation of future threat...

Currently the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders) defines anxiety as the anticipation of future threat. The DSM-5 has divided anxiety disorders into groups for anxiety, OCD, Trauma & stressor-related disorders.

Normal anxiety exists which is good for people in that it results in a neurophysiological response which encourages humans through their senses to stay away from a real or perceived current danger or threat so that they can survive.

However, when anxiety is not healthy it can cause clients to feel distressed, to suffer from many physical symptoms including rapid breathing, palpitations, nausea and sweating. They can also experience excessive worrying, feel nervous and subsequently can find it difficult to relax. Depression and disassociation occur in some people. Clients can also develop safety behaviours such as hypervigilance and reassurance or avoidance of the stimulus that causes them their distress. These various symptoms often lead clients to seeking help and support including counselling.

The counselling skills counsellors can use with clients presenting with anxiety are person-centred, psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural (CBT) approaches. Counsellors will consider the most appropriate approach according to what best suits the client and their history. Counsellors who have completed additional training and are competent in doing so can also incorporate other interventions in their counselling practice which help clients learn to self-regulate. This can then help clients improve and recover from overwhelming anxiety.