woman riddled with anxiety with head in hands before therapy for anxiety/ Empower Counseling/ Birmingham Al.

What does anxiety look like for you? A personal letter from an anxiety therapist Birmingham Al.

Anxiety and me go way back. From a very young age many different things made me anxious. I was worried about what other people thought about me so my face would turn red and my stomach would drop if a teacher called on me or if I had to speak in front of anyone. I was petrified to speak in front of the entire class. One time, I actually feinted I had such a strong physical response to my anxious thoughts. My anxiety kept me in my comfort zone…BIGTIME. Anytime I thought about doing anything new, my anxiety would rear it’s ugly, over protective head and tell me, “I can’t do it”, which would keep me from even trying. I did not understand until much later in life how much I feared making a mistake. My anxiety kept me quiet, afraid to let people know who I really was because I thought I was not enough….not pretty enough, not interesting enough, not funny enough. I was good at tennis. I am athletic. But my fear of messing up in tennis and my fear of other people seeing me mess up, ultimately drove me from the game that I loved. So yeah, me and anxiety go way back.

I used to be a lawyer but I stayed home a few years with my children. When they were older, I knew I wanted something more for myself. I needed an individual sense of accomplishment. (Not that raising children is any small accomplishment!). As scared as I was to go back to school, I was more scared of my children flying the nest leaving me with nothing to do.

So, I went back to school to attempt to earn a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health and work toward becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (at he ripe young age of 46 years old.) Nothing about it was easy-having a part-time job, 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a husband while going to school full time. But it was a magical experience for me. When you go to school to become a counselor as large part of the work is diving deep into yourself. We needed to learn ourselves inside and out before we could begin to help others without imposing our own judgment and values.

Well, before going back to school, I believed I was a perfectionist with a type “A” personality. I really and truly did not know what I was experiencing was anxiety. Once I understood how significant and life changing my anxiety was, out set out to find the best, most effective scientifically proven methods to help me move away from it. It became my quest. After 2 years of learning and becoming more aware of who I was, it was time to begin my internship-actually counseling others. In the clinic in which I interned we were asked to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a methos which is scientifically proven to help clients with anxiety, depression, and other issues so of course it made sense to use it in the clinic. And it was effective for the most part. But with some of my most intellectual clients, they were struggling with it. With CBT one is supposed to recognize dysfunctional thoughts and present evidence that the thoughts are not true. But some clients pointed out…”What if my thought is true?”…”What if I believe it is true? How do I present evidence to the contrary when I believe the thought. I did not have an answer for that so I keep scouring books for other methods or at least an answer to that question. I finally found the answer…Acceptance Commitment Therapy and it changed my life in the best way.

I became my own guinea pig. I read all there was to read, took an advanced course, and took myself through the therapy. It took my from being scared, anxious, with low self-esteem and confidence to content, confident, and proud. I kid you not. It also worked well for the clients who believed their dysfunctional thoughts.

The details explaining Acceptance Commitment Therapy can be found here. But that is not the point of this post. The post of this post is to let you know that even if your anxiety looks different from mine, I know where it is coming from, what is causing, and how to move away from it using Acceptance Commitment Therapy.

teen with anxiety before finding an anxiety therapist in Birmingham Al/ Empower Counseling

What Does Anxiety Look Like?

Anxiety can look differently for different people, and it can vary in degrees.

Some common Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety are:

Feeling like something bad is about to happen

Feeling on edge or restless

Not being able to relax (Always thinking you should be doing something)

Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep


Constant Worry

Feeling of Panic

A man with anxiety biting his nails before meeting an anxiety therapist in Birmingham Al/ Empower Counseling/ Mountain Brook

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anyone who has anxiety knows that it is not confined to just thoughts and emotions. You can actually feel it in your body. You might experience:

Head aches

Stomach discomfort

Increased heartrate


Heaviness or tightness in your chest

A woman with anxiety with head in hands/ Anxiety therapy Birmingham Al./ Empower Counseling

How Anxiety Can Affect Behavior: Anxiety Can Shrink Your Life

Nothing about having anxiety feels good. In fact it can be so miserable that we begin to avoid things we want or need to do to try to get rid of the anxiety. The truth about anxiety is that it can be our friend or our own worst enemy. Once you understand anxiety, it can be an important alert to let you know that something is important to you. But until then it is an overprotective nemesis.

Often anxiety brings discomfort…uncomfortable thoughts and more uncomfortable feelings. The level of discomfort involved can convince you that is it best to avoid whatever that thing is that is causing you to have these uncomfortable thoughts and uncomfortable feelings. That is logical, right? It made sense to me too. What happens when we do this…when we avoid whatever it is that is causing us anxiety? It feels better for a minute but then we feel even worse about ourselves. It is a different feeling than anxiety but an equally uncomfortable feeling…disappointment in ourselves.

After we avoid what makes us anxious we lose a little faith and trust in ourselves and have thoughts that we are uncapable of doing difficult things. Sometimes these thoughts are so automatic we do not know we are having them. We just know that we feel really awful and don’t like ourselves. Now that we have less faith in ourselves and feel less capable, we are even more afraid to attempt difficult things. And so it begins. Our lives begin to get smaller and smaller, and less comfortable. That is how anxiety shrinks your life.

An anxious man with head in hands/ Anxiety therapist in Birmingham Al/ Empower Counseling

How do I know if I Need an Anxiety Therapist in Birmingham Al?

If your life is shrinking like described above, then you may need anxiety therapy. If you spend more time in your head thinking about the past or fearing the future, you may need anxiety therapy in Birmingham Al. If you are worried about something bad happening (like you are waiting on the other shoe to drop) you may need anxiety therapy in Birmingham Al. If you always think someone else is thinking something negative about you (that is called mind reading), then you may need anxiety therapy. If you are worried most of the time, you may need anxiety therapy. If you go over conversations in your mind thinking about where you messed up and what you could have said better, then, yes, you may need anxiety therapy.

If you are using alcohol, pot, or other substances to calm down or relax, you may need anxiety therapy.

A happy woman with outstretched arms

Do you want to find freedom from anxiety and have better control over your life? Find an Anxiety Therapist in Birmingham Al.

I told you my story. I spent a good 48 years or so as a victim of anxiety. My life was limited by fear of making a mistake, fear of the judgment of others, and many other fears. These fears greatly interfered with me being the person I could be accomplishing what I could accomplish.

If you are suffering from anxiety, you do not have to suffer any longer. Anxiety can be treated. Your life can be so much better! What I and many of Empower Counseling’s clients experience now is amazing. I myself went from being scared of so many things to wanting to push myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself regularly. Many of our clients have gone from scared to be themselves to proud to be exactly who they are. Clients have gone from feeling like “not enough” to knowing that they are. Going through counseling for anxiety, clients have moved from lacking faith and trust in themselves to knowing they will follow through with what is important.

When anxiety is out of control, it feels like someone else is running your life. But you can find freedom from anxiety with anxiety therapy from Empower Counseling.

happy woman with arms in the air

Why kind of treatment do I need for anxiety?

At Empower Counseling we practice Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Anxiety because it is scientifically proven to help clients with anxiety. Not only do we have scientific studies that have proven ACT helps anxiety, we have seens it in the hundreds of clients who have come through our offices.

We have seen clients who were claustrophobic and having panic attacks to comfortably taking underground tours. We have seen clients who were to scared to attend a party easily attend social functions of all kinds. We have seen clients who had no self-confidence or self-esteem become very proud of themselves.

There is more than one method of successful counseling for anxiety. But we have found ACT to be incredibly effective.

Empower Counseling offers a team of therapists who focus on Anxiety Therapy in Birmingham

Kathryn, Lucia, Marti, and Savannah (the all female team), the team of therapists at Empower Counseling know how to help with anxiety. We help teens, college students (at the University of Alabama, Samford, and more), young adults, adults, and professionals who have anxiety. Using Act, we will help you begin to recognize the thoughts you are having that drive anxiety. We will show you mindfulness techniques to let go of these thoughts instead of getting tangled up in them. We will work on self-compassion, if self-criticism is an issue because the way you speak to yourself is everything. Then we will focus on value work. When you know exactly what is important to you and you put that right in front of you, it becomes easier to find the courage to take the action you want to take. Find an anxiety therapist in Birmingham Al.

happy women  going to a conference

How do I Start Anxiety Therapy in with my Anxiety Therapist in Birmingham Al at Empower Counseling?

It is so easy to start moving away from anxiety with your anxiety therapist in Birmingham Al and toward a better life!

  1. Click here and send us a short message.
  2. Meet your new anxiety therapist.
  3. Start down the path toward a better future.

Anxiety counseling is not the only service we offer at our Mountain Brook Counseling Clinic. Our Birmingham therapists also specialize in counseling for depression, perfectionism counseling, eat disorder counseling, counseling for trauma and PTSD, counseling for difficult life transitions, and bipolar disorder. Kathryn offers life coaching and executive coaching as well. We offer our counseling services in person and online across the state of Alabama. Start today.

Here are other helpful bog posts for you:

10 Signs You Might Have Anxiety: By An Anxiety Therapist In Birmingham AL

Do I Need Therapy For Eating Disorders? By A Birmingham Al. Therapist

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