Anxiety Counselling Sydney

What is anxiety?

Anxiety refers an emotional state consisting of worry, nervousness, or a sense of apprehension.


Anxiety often arises in relation to an upcoming event where the outcome is uncertain. Anxiety also arises when a person feels they might not be up to doing a task. Anxiety is also commonly experienced in 'high pressure' situations, for example, prior to a making a speech or sitting an exam.


Feelings of anxiety can also arise following a stressful event, like an accident where the person is left feeling shaken.


In some cases, people can become anxious without knowing the cause.


Anxious feelings are usually accompanied by a number of signs and symptoms listed below.

Anxiety Disorders

There are a number of different types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Agoraphobia

  • Panic disorder

  • Generalized anxiety disorder

  • Social anxiety disorder (or social phobia)

  • Specific phobia (or simple phobia)

The most recent update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) also included separation anxiety disorder and selective mutism under the category of anxiety disorders.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were removed from anxiety disorders. These two conditions are now recognised in the DSM-5 as separate disorders on their own.

Signs and symptoms of anxiety

Although the experience of anxiety will vary from person to person, feeling stressed, worried, and having anxious thoughts are common symptoms. Other common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Mind racing

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Breathing difficulties and choking

  • Low frustration tolerance and anger

  • Relationship difficulties

  • Problems performing

  • Restlessness

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Avoidance behaviour

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Feeling lightheaded or faint

  • Numbness or tingling sensations

  • Upset stomach or nausea

  • Sweating

  • Increased use of substances

  • Changes in eating or weight loss or gain

You cannot stop the waves...

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What causes anxiety disorders?

There is no single known cause of anxiety disorders. There are a number of risk factors or triggers that may contribute. These vary between different anxiety disorders too. In general, the following factors may play a role:

  • Physical health and lifestyle factors: These factors can increase a person’s risk of developing symptoms of anxiety.

  • Stress: Stressful events such as: a marriage breakdown; work or school deadlines; and financial hardship can act as a trigger for anxiety.


  • Personality and thinking style: This includes patterns of behaving and thinking like:

    • Expecting the worst

    • Persistent negative self-talk

    • Low self-esteem

    • Unhelpful coping strategies (e.g., avoidance)

  • Genes: Certain anxiety disorders appear to have a genetic component. Some anxiety disorders have a familial history.

Anxiety treatments that help

The following strategies can be used to assist people better manage their anxiety:

  • Relaxation: Learning relaxation techniques helps. This includes simple breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation. Practicing such exercises regularly, is part of effective treatment for anxiety.

  • Problem solving: Problem-solving skills help a person develop better insight and understanding. Problem solving enhances coping with situations. Problem solving also can help with thoughts that are making us stressed or anxious. Structured problem solving involves: identifying the problem; exploring, selecting and implementing a solution to the problem; and evaluating its helpfulness.

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness therapy, focuses on being in the moment. While being in the moment we then become aware of the experience of anxiety, rather than anxiety itself. The person learns to focus on bodily sensations and thoughts that arise when they are anxious. This is instead of avoiding, withdrawing or fighting against these symptoms. ​Observing thoughts and feelings allows the person to become more open and accepting of thoughts and sensations associated with anxiety. As a result the person learns not to be overwhelmed by those feelings and thoughts. This allows the person to engage more fully with life.

  • Cognitive restructuring: Feelings of anxiety sometimes stem from a persons negative or unhelpful thoughts. Cognitive restructuring is a technique used by psychologists. It helps a person challenge negative thoughts and develop more helpful and constructive ways of thinking.

  • Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy involves the psychologist guiding a person through a series of real or imagined scenarios to confront specific fears. A gradual process of exposure allows the person to learn to cope with these fears. Through practice, the anxious response naturally decreases.

In addition to the above psychological techniques, making simple changes to a person’s lifestyle can help lower stress and anxiety.


Lifestyle changes can include:

  • Regular exercise,

  • Reducing or giving up alcohol and caffeine

  • Engaging in enjoyable activities

  • Improving skills in managing time

  • Having adequate sleep.

How an Anxiety Psychologist can help

Through assessment and anxiety counselling, psychologists develop an understanding of the factors that might be contributing to anxiety. A therapy plan is then developed in collaboration with the client. For anxiety disorders, this can involve relaxation, mindfulness, CBT, exposure therapy and other helpful strategies.

Through the process of anxiety counselling, the psychologist can also assist making lifestyle changes to enhance resilience to cope better and reduce symptoms of anxiety.

When to access our anxiety counselling services?

If anxiety is affecting a person’s work, school, home life, or relationships, psychological assistance should be considered.


iflow psychology counselling services can assist. Just call contact us or book an appointment online using the buttons below.

You can also claim a partial rebate from Medicare for up to twenty sessions per calendar year. If you would like to claim the rebate then ask your treating doctor to provide a referral and Mental Health Plan.


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02 6061 1144

48 Norton Street

Leichhardt NSW 2040


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