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Psychotherapeutic Treatment for Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety Disorders refers to a state of continuous and unpleasant tension in the body and mind without a clear cause. The common symptoms of anxiety disorders include body tension, overreaction of the autonomic nervous system, unexplained worry about the future, feeling overly nervous or alert in any situation.


The purpose of anxiety disorder treatment is not only to reduce the feelings of excessive worry or tension, but to figure out and cure the underlying factors that may induce other diseases as early as possible, such as depression, persistent insomnia, long-term headaches, decreased resistance, and inability to Chronic pain and so on. In severe cases, anxiety disorders will affect one’s work or learning ability, hinder the progress of the disease recovery, decrease the quality of life, hinder personal and social development, and also increase the risk of self-harm or suicide.

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Different subtype of anxiety disorders has different characteristics. The following are the more common symptoms of anxiety disorders, which can be used as a reference:

  1. Physical discomfort: continuous excessive tension resulting in muscle, involuntary tremor, heart palpitations, chest tightness, shortness of breath

  2. Restlessness: Continuous sense of nervousness, restlessness, and inability to stop or control one’s worries

  3. Easily agitated: easily upset or angry

  4. Difficulty in relaxing or falling asleep: excessive worries of terrible things happenings, decrease of the quality of sleep, and nightmares or easily waking up in the middle of the night

  5. Avoid social interactions: Being constantly nervous in social/public situations, very worried and even afraid of others’ evaluations

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About anxiety disorder treatment and counselling - FAQ:

  • 1. What is psychotherapy and counselling? What is the general process of receiving your psychotherapy and counselling services?
    Psychotherapy and counselling are processes of transformative change. In Hong Kong, many professional psychologists who have received specialized clinical trainings are called clinical psychologists. They not only conduct interviews and assessments with those seeking psychological assessment services but also work collaboratively with them in psychotherapy. Clinical psychologists have a deep understanding of their clients' situations and guide them to think from a different perspective, helping them gain a clearer understanding of themselves and their surroundings. This enables clients to have more choices and not be limited to just one option, positively impacting their mental state and thoughts. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is the most common form of treatment, helping clients to approach and deal with problems with a positive and proactive attitude and behaviour. Additionally, targeted psychological treatments and counselling methods may be necessary in different situations, such as Art Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, and Psychodynamic Analysis Therapy, among others. These are all recommended methods commonly used by clinical psychologists.
  • 2. How long does each session of counselling or psychotherapy take? And how long does the whole clinical psychological service process last?
    It is difficult to generalize the time and duration required for counselling and psychotherapy, as they can be influenced by multiple factors. For example, if a client's psychological issues are more severe and complex, more time may be needed for the psychological service. Other factors such as the client's background, problem-solving ability, other sources of stress at the time, and treatment goals can also affect the recommended duration of psychotherapy. It's important to emphasize that our clinical psychologists and psychotherapists constantly review the progress of the treatment process, so the length of counselling or therapy can vary. Encouraging the client to express their thoughts more (which is also recommended by the therapist) and having effective communication between both parties during the therapeutic process can significantly improve the progress of psychotherapy.
  • 3. Would clinical psychologists and psychotherapists provide suitable medication to those who received psychotherapy and counselling?
    If a clinical psychologist or psychotherapist conducts a comprehensive assessment and determines that referral to a psychiatrist is necessary based on the individual's mental state, they may issue a referral letter. After an evaluation and treatment by the psychiatrist, if medication is deemed necessary to further aid in the individual's recovery, the psychiatrist will prescribe medication to the individual.
  • 4. What preparation should I make if I need to receive psychotherapy and counselling?
    As a client of psychotherapy and counselling, it is important to try to stay relaxed and calm during the process. Feeling nervous or anxious is normal, especially if it is the first time receiving psychological services, but there is no need to overly worry about it. The key to effective psychotherapy and counselling is to be honest and open with the clinical psychologist or psychotherapist. They need to deeply understand the root causes of the client's distress, and may need to discuss their family, work, and other background information during the sessions. Therefore, it is possible that the discussion may bring up some unpleasant memories or emotions for the client, but the psychologist or therapist will encourage them to express everything they feel. However, it can be difficult and embarrassing to reveal everything to a stranger all at once, so it is okay to share at one's own pace and according to one's own feelings. It is important to note that one session is usually not enough to completely solve the problem, so clients should make follow-up appointments and reserve enough time to receive psychological services. Regularly being late, leaving early, or missing appointments will waste the psychological therapy services and greatly affect the effectiveness of the treatment.
  • 5. Clinical psychologists and psychotherapists recommend that client share more. What is the difference between this type of clinical psychology service and confiding in a friend?
    Regarding clinical psychology services, psychotherapy involves sharing and dialogue. The difference between this type of service and confiding in a friend is that clinical psychologists and psychotherapists specifically address the mental and psychological health, related issues, causes, and symptoms of the client in a professional manner. They systematically discuss these topics with the client based on theories and research findings. Psychotherapists in Hong Kong recommend this type of service because it helps clients understand their own thoughts and emotions throughout the entire psychotherapy process. Clinical psychologists and psychotherapists work with the client to set treatment goals and make changes step by step, allowing psychological problems to be resolved gradually. Therefore, to summarize, psychotherapy and counselling services in Hong Kong may include sharing emotions, but it is not simply confiding in someone. It is a systematic clinical psychotherapy service.
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