Anxiety is a natural human emotion; everyone feels worried or anxious at times. Children and adults may feel worry or anxiety especially when faced with a difficult situation. The feelings that come with anxiety are uncomfortable, but with “typical” anxiety, these feelings do not stop us from doing what we need to do. Anxiety can become a problem when our fears or worries become so intense that it interferes with our ability to do the things we really want to do.
Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental health ailment and affect 12% of all Canadians in a given year. Over the course of a lifetime, about 1 in every 4 people suffers from an anxiety disorder. Between 10- 20 % of Canadian youth are affected by mental health issues with anxiety disorders being the most common form of psychological distress in childhood and adolescence. Among children, about 1 in 10 has experienced an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects approximately 1-2 % of Canadians. Individuals are plagued by repetitive intrusive thoughts, images or impulses (i.e., obsessions) that they often recognize as irrational and senseless. The obsessions are disturbing and result in distress and anxiety that individuals relieve by engaging in certain behaviours (i.e., compulsions/rituals). The rituals temporarily relieve the distress until the next time an obsession comes and the pattern is repeated. Due to the gradual onset of OCD, it can take several years for individuals to recognize it as a problem. OCD is a serious medical condition and left untreated, OCD tends to become progressively worse and has a serious impact on people's lives and functioning. OCD and the accompanying anxiety can be overwhelming and significantly interfere with quality of life, such as going to school/work, getting along with family and friends, and participating in everyday activities. OCD and Anxiety Disorders can cause both physiological and psychological distress.
Research supports the claim that with effective specialized treatment, OCD and Anxiety Disorders are very treatable. Extensive studies have confirmed that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment to help decrease and even eliminate anxiety symptoms. Researchers have found cognitive behaviour therapy to be highly effective in treating anxiety disorders and to have lasting effects. Therefore, for most people with anxiety disorders, there is effective help available.
I provide treatment for Anxiety Disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Specific Phobias, Panic Disorder, Hypochondriasis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have a particular passion and expertise in treating Obsessive Compulsive Related Disorders, such as OCD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Skin Picking, Hair Pulling and other Body Specific Repetitive Disorders and Hoarding. I specialize in implementing Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, particularly Exposure and Response Prevention and other effective treatment techniques for both OCD and Anxiety Disorders.
I use Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to treat problems related to anxiety and depression. There is much evidence documenting the effectiveness of CBT to treat anxiety and depression. CBT is a form of treatment that focuses on changing behaviours by understanding how thoughts, behaviours and feelings are interconnected and influence each other. Treatment focuses on helping clients identify troublesome thoughts and unhelpful behaviours that may be contributing to the feelings of anxiety and depression and other negative emotions. It focuses on teaching clients new adaptive behaviours and thought patterns to help change their way of thinking about and acting in a given situation. CBT is collaborative and requires the participation of both the client and therapist.
In treating OCD and OC Related Disorders, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) treatment is added to the CBT. There is strong research that supports the effectiveness of ERP in treating and overcoming one’s fears. With ERP, clients are slowly and gradually brought in contact with their fears, while learning to manage the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts associated with anxiety. Using this treatment, clients repeatedly face their fears while using effective ways to manage the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, and they learn that the feelings of anxiety will go away. Over time clients get used to (or they habituate to) these previously feared situations and are able to function.