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Anxiety Therapy NYC

Takeaway: While some degree of worry and stress are common to experience in your daily life, existential anxiety goes beyond the typical anxious flutters and nervous butterflies. When we’re confronted with our limitations as humans (ex. becoming ill, aging, and experiencing hardship), we might panic and feel out of control, or shut down and become super apathetic. Our anxiety therapists in NYC specialize in supporting our clients to manage anxiety and explore creative ways of incorporating meaning and purpose into their lives.

You may be going along your merry way, living your best life when that awful well of existential anxiety hits you heavily in your chest leaving you gasping for air. Whether you are shaken after a traumatic event, learning of the unexpected passing of a loved one or you are entering a new phase of life unsure of what is to come, existential anxiety is difficult to process and may leave you with racing thoughts, panic attacks, and an overwhelming number of anxiety symptoms where no amount of coping skills seem to quell the groundlessness. If you're shaking your head in agreeance, follow along as this post explores the depths of existential anxiety, why it occurs, and our unique talk therapy and mental health services for treating anxiety.

Understanding Anxiety

Before we delve into the deep sea of existential anxiety, it's important to have a baseline understanding of common symptoms of anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder, as well as the many other forms anxiety may present itself and how there may be a larger underlying existential component to your distress.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Probably the most commonly experienced form of anxiety when it comes to mental health struggles is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Overall, Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the term or diagnosis used to identify an experience where one may have excessive and persistent worries that are disruptive and difficult to manage. The situations in which anxiety may occur are nonspecific and can include anxiousness regarding finances, relationships, or health. When experiencing generalized anxiety, a person may have accompanying physical symptoms such as muscle tension, in addition to experiences of restlessness and irritability, poor concentration or rumination, as well as sleep disruptions and fatigue.

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  • Specific Phobia: As the name suggests, a specific phobia is an intense fear regarding a specific object or situation, such as spiders, needles, or going on an airplane. A person experiencing a specific phobia will have an overwhelming experience of anxiety when exposed to the specific experience or situation where strong efforts to avoid the experience or situation are common. For example, to avoid panic-like symptoms that occur when having to get a flu shot, a person may avoid going to the doctor, getting blood work, taking their insulin, and any situation that may bring up the need to use a needle. A common example of a specific phobia is agoraphobia, which is an intense fear of using public transportation, being in an open space or an enclosed space, standing in line or being in a crowd of people, or being outside of the home by yourself. Significant efforts would be made to avoid these experiences to not experience a panic attack, intense anxiety, excessive worry, and many of the additional symptoms listed above.

  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Social Anxiety Disorder can be viewed as a specific phobia, often referred to as, social phobia. An individual may have an intense fear of being in social situations where they may be subject to scrutiny and judgment. A common situation may be one where a person has to perform a eulogy on stage, provide a work presentation, or lead a team meeting. Again, experiences of distress, irritability, and panic-like symptoms may be common, and a person will put forth great effort to avoid such situations.

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A person may have obsessions, compulsions, or both experiences to receive a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are intrusive and difficult to manage. Often, a person will engage in compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors or mental acts in response to an obsession and to calm the obsessive thoughts. For example, a person may have obsessive thoughts that if they do not wash their hands 5x after getting up in the morning they will acquire a deadly disease. To reduce this persistent thought and anxiety often associated with the thought, a person will engage in handwashing, the compulsive behavior, to alleviate the distress. Existential OCD or existential obsessions/philosophical obsessions are becoming more widely discussed in the mental health world.

  • Panic Disorder: To receive the diagnosis of Panic Disorder a person will experience both panic attacks, as well as significant concerns about when another panic attack will occur. A panic attack is a sudden onset of intense fear, which often includes heart palpitations, sweating and trembling, shallow breathing or shortness of breath, feeling as if you are chocking or have pressure on your chest, nausea, dizziness, or GI upset, as well as numbness or tingling sensations in your extremities.

It's important to note here, that while these "disorders" are helpful in better identifying one's experience, at the end of the day these disorders are merely a list of criteria. At Authentically Living Psychological Services, we refrain from the use of unnecessary diagnoses in efforts to reduce pathology, judgment, and labels.

Furthermore, when it comes to existential anxiety, many of the above-listed diagnoses and experiences often have existential correlations. Existential anxiety can initially present similarly to these experiences with additional components. We often work with clients who are drowning in their anxious thoughts, struggling to identify and name the depths of their anxiousness and are fatigued with mainstream cognitive behavioral therapy, coping skills, specific techniques, and tools that are often thrown their way by therapists and peers. Our therapy sessions often involve touching on themes related to health and aging, mortality and illness, lack of control and personal responsibilities, dealing with unknowns and future happenings, isolation and loneliness navigating the world as independent beings, and pressures of being tasked with creating meaning in a world that has undefined meanings and a lot of big questions with even less answers. If you are experiencing any anxious experiences, we encourage you to reach out so we may explore potential existential experiences and provide validation and hope in a world that can feel dark and sometimes smothered with limitations.

Common signs that you could benefit from existential anxiety therapy

Now, more than ever, is a time to address your mental health. With constant negative news, war and crime, pandemic and world illnesses, existential anxiety and mental distress are at an all time high. If you are wondering whether existential anxiety therapy can be of benefit for you, read below:

1. You Have an Anxiety Related Disorder (or Experience): If you currently "have" an anxiety disorder or a related disorder, such as major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, or an adjustment disorder, then existential therapy may be of benefit. Such diagnoses often include experiences of intense fear, irritability, fatigue, panic, distress, rumination, as well as lowness, emotional disconnect, isolation, and difficulty getting through day-to-day. If you are struggling with any of the aforementioned experiences and are looking for support, we encourage you to reach out to our New York Anxiety Therapists. Of note, you don't need a disorder in order to experience anxiety and you certaintly don't need an anxiety related disorder in order to seek therapy for anxiety.

​2. You are Struggling to Find Meaning: If your anxiety has been so dibilitating that it has left you feeling as if all there is left to life is being anxious, then existential anxiety therapy can defintely be helpful. We often work with clients who feel as if they are at the end of the road, express apathy and little regard for themselves and their lives. Many patients experience a mix of anxiousness, as well as depressive experiences due to feeling out of control and facing many hurdles in life. Many of our clients are going through life changes or major milestones and are struggling to adjust and make sense of their next phase of life. Many have already accomplished goals, leaving them wondering what else life has to offer, while others are overwhelmed with the task of where to even start when it comes to identifying what is meaningful to them.

3. You Experience Apathy and have Lost the Lust for Life: This is a big one! Who wouldn't begin to feel apathetic when their anxiety has become so overwhelming and the existential underpinnings have not been explored? Many therapists themselves shy away from these difficult conversations because, let's face it, we don't like it either! Who wants to chat about our pending mortality and getting old and crotchety? Well, you're in luck - the anxiety therapists at Authentically Living Psycholoigcal Services not only have experienced (and continue to experience) their own existential crisies, but we enjoy leaning into these conversations and providing a space for our clients to reflect on their life circumstances to better understand their anxiety and who they are as individuals.

4. Your Experiences and Symptoms are Overwhelming: The panic attacks, the ruminating thoughts, the night sweats...these symptoms are overwhelming! And now they are causing difficulty sleeping and cutting into your ability to incorporate self-care, practice physical exercise, and have healthy relationships that are meaningful and authentic. If you're at your wits end, pulling your hair and desperate for some peace of mind, then reach out today.

5. Other Treatment Modalities Weren't the Right Fit: If you've tried cognitive behavior therapy, cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and other evidence based treatments where you were flooded with mindful breathing exercises and other therapeutic techniques and you still left the office feeling misunderstood, than existential therapy might be for you. Now that's not to say that learning how to down regulate your nervous system isn't important, but that's only getting you to first base. If you really want to hit a home run, it will require existential anxiety therapy (NYC), as such therapy focuses on further exploration, self-understanding, and a coming to terms with the many facets of our existence we do or don't have control over and the subsequent anxiety we often experience as a result.

6. You're Ready to Have Difficult Conversations: This is a tell-tale sign you are ready for existential anxiety with one of our New York anxiety therapists. Therapy isn't actually suppose to be easy. We know that might be a hard one to swallow, but if therapy is causing you to pause, reflect, take stock, challenge, and even become frustrated then you know you got a good therapist. Existential therapy involves socratic and philosophical questioning, and process-oriented work that will have you contemplating in the weeks leading to your next session.

7. There's Some Curiosity: If existential therapy is an approach that intrigues you that often is a great sign that you might benefit. Clients who are open and receptive to difficult questions and large topic conversations often respond well to our existential and relational work. If you find yourself contemplating big questions about life, your meaning, and how to make the most of your life and these thoughts make you highly anxious then reach out today!

Existential therapy is a truly unique and human approach to addressing many difficult experiences in life. It's an approach that values authenticity, self-understanding, personal growth, openness, and a bit of satire along the way.

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Our approach to anxiety therapy in New York City

Our mental health counselors at Authentically Living Psychological Services are truly dedicated to your psychological wellness. We take pride in spending each hour of therapeutic work investing energy in cultivating a genuine relationship, exploring your experiences, and supporting you in navigating acute episodes of anxiety or periods of excessive anxiety. We enjoy the process of asking challenging questions in efforts towards furthering your self-understanding and towards leading a life that feels renewed, meaningful, intra and interpersonally connected, and in line with your values.

While the relationships our therapists are able to cultivate is the true uniqueness of our work, our approach is embedded with philosophical understandings, spiritual openness, human science, and in our ability to seamlessly incorporate the art and dance of the therapeutic process. Our approaches are relational, compassion-focused, trauma-informed, culturally sensitive, and person-centered. If you'd like to learn more about our approach, reach out to one of our providers here.

Meet Dr. Cynthia Shaw | Anxiety therapist in NYC

Dr. Cynthia Shaw is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Existential Clinician, and owner of Authentically Living Psychological Services. Dr. Shaw founded her practice motivated to create a space that focuses heavily on existential theory, the art of therapy, and genuine therapeutic support and collaboration when it comes to tackling life hurdles. Dr. Shaw's existential teachings and way of life can best be attributed to her mentors: internationally renowned psychologists Dr. Todd DuBose and Dr. Miles Groth, in addition to her own life experiences and existential confrontations. Through The Existential Humanistic Institute, Dr. Shaw sought additional training with Dr. Kirk Schneider, learning the importance of embodied existential exploration. She further pulls from Drs. Emmy Van Deurzen and Ernesto Spinelli's existential-phenomenological approachs, and incorporates teachings from Laing (The Divided Self is a must read), Frankl, Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Yalom when working with clients.

As the name of her practice states, Dr. Shaw highly values authenticity within her work; both in the traditional sense and in the existential sense: she puts forth great effort in presenting herself as honestly and genuinily in session so that sincere relationships can be formed. She finds it important to express fumbles, human error, continued learning, and humility. Her life motto is to grab the bull by the horns, which is demonstrated in her work with clients. She takes pride in her learning to laugh at life (and herself). She hopes to instill a beautiful blend of confidence and humility in her clients, and wants all of her clients to feel like true badasses - capable of manging hard moments and feeling realistically optimistic about the choices they do have in life.

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Why choose Authentically Living Psychological Services for anxiety treatment

It can be challenging to find a therapist office, let alone a therapist, that is the right fit for you. There are so many different clinics, so many different modalities, and so many different personalities. The list can be so overwhelming it may lead to decision paralysis (an area we focus on a lot in therapy *cue the next paragraph*).

At Authentically Living Psychological Services we utilize holistic modalities and relational processing to address anxieties often consisting of existential elements. We often work with people struggling with health related anxities and the complexities that come with aging, death related anxities that may be sparked by religious and spiritual questionings, social related anxieties often having to do with social acceptance, low self-esteem, and difficulty forming authentic relationships, as well as decision related anxities (in the context of career choices, and other large life choices) often due to distress about finality in choosing and fears of choosing "incorrectly."

Our therapy focuses on deconstructing the anxious experience to better understand the weight it has been playing in your life, and as it relates to possible existential elements. By exploring the anxiety and the existential facets, we are better able to illuminate areas of stuckness, in addition to learning how to come to terms with aspects of life that are either within our control or outside of our control. For the aspects that are within out control, therapy may focus on exploring ways to harness this energy and sense of responsibility in making choices that align with who you are.

When a different practice may be a better fit for you

While we think our services are awesome, we know we aren't the best fit for every person out there. Read below to see whether a different practice may be better suited for your needs.

  • You're Looking for a Quick Fix: We live in America, of course we want things expedited. We get it, you want your anxiety gone yesterday. Unfortunately, mental health doesn't work that way. While there are defintely situations where shorter-term services are warranted (between 3-6months), at Authentically Living Psychological Services we tend to attract clients committed to their growth process and may be with us for 6m-1+years. We know what you're thinking "Oh my gosh! I need therapy for years!?" Well, no-one "needs" therapy, per se, but yes, you may come to find that therapy is a journey that may have lots of avenues; we use the metaphor of pandoras box to describe therapy: you may come to therapy seeking X and learn, through conversation, that there is Y, Z, and A, B and, C to explore.

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  • You're Looking for Low Cost Services: We can totally empathize with this one, too. Life is expensive and trying to allot funds for mental health services may be on the bottom of your priority list. At Authentically Living Psychological Services, we believe mental health services are an investment and one worth making for yourself. We offer premium conceirge therapy services reflective of our licensures, expertise, and marketrate. Learn more about our decision to be out-of-network providers here. As previous students ourselves, we understand the financial barriers that come with a student status. Thus, we offer limited sliding scale spot for students, only. For those needing additional financial support, we direct you to Open Path Collective.

  • You're Looking for Tools & Skills Only: We're happy to fill your tool box with lots of skills, when appropriate. However, we find that these tools are a momentary relief and don't allow us to get to the meat and potatoes of what's really going on. We much prefer incorporating processing and holistic modalities. If you're just looking for tools, we strongly encourage you to seek out clinicians that specialize in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

  • You're Looking for a Plan of Action: This might sound confusing, but bare with us. Of course we develop a treatment plan and keep track of our conversations from week to week (we're not totally roague). However, we are less directive in our approach. While we are confrontational in our conversations, we are much more keen on allowing the conversations to flow-freely. Coming into a session with intention, on the therapist's behalf, may place unnecessary pressures on how the therapeutic space should be. We prefer to create a space where we allow ourselves to go where we are naturally feeling pulled towards.

  • You're Looking to Be Told What to Do: We think this should really be across the board, but we are never going to tell you what to do. While we will explore paths, consequences, pros and cons, etc., we cannot make decisions for you. This is your life, remember? We know it's difficult to make decisions, but that's why you're in therapy. We'll help you get there.

So, did we make the cut? If you'd like to schedule a consult call with one of our anxiety therapists (NYC) then reach out today.

FAQs about working with a therapist for anxiety in NYC

  • What type of counseling is best for grief?
    There are many different types of counseling practices for addressing grief. The choice of modality is specific to the provider, as well as the assessment of client needs, preferences, and the nature of grief. Below are common counseling services typically provided for grief: Existential & Humanistic Therapy: Existential and humanistic therapy are interconnected therapies that focus on self-understanding while confronting limitations to being human, such as death, illness, and demise, responsibilities and freedom to make choices, and what it means to be authentic. The therapies highlight the integration of exploring meaning, purpose, and personal fulfillment while recognizing and challenging the irony of pointlessness and the inevitability of loss. Positive Psychology: Positive psychology has similarities to existential and humanistic therapy, as it focuses on promoting wellness and self-growth despite loss. Positive psychology is more strength-based and relies on personal resiliency, meaningful goals, and gratitude to navigate grief. Art & Expressive Therapy: Expressive therapies include the use of creative art interventions such as drawing, writing, painting, singing, dancing, and acting to process grief and loss. The use of mainstream talk therapy can sometimes be challenging for those who are grieving, and thus resorting to nonverbal forms of expression can be cathartic and supportive. Narrative Therapy: Similar to Expressive therapies and Positive Psychology, Narrative therapy focuses on allowing a person to story and describe their experience of loss. Identifying personal resiliency and noted strengths, narrative therapy further focuses on the re-narrating or re-storying of the loss; It provides an opportunity to notice new perspectives as we move through loss. Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Helpful as an additive to all modalities, especially for those grieving, Mindfulness-Based Therapy focuses on incorporating stress reduction tools, meditation practices, and mindfulness exercises to aid in down-regulating one's heightened nervous system, self-soothe, and ground an individual. Logotherapy: A branch of Existential therapy, Logotherapy is also an additive therapy that focuses specifically on creating meaning. Even in the face of suffering, Logotherapy highlight how we can still choose to create meaning. For unchanging situations, such as after loss, incorporating attitudinal shifts is a primary focus of logotherapy. Transpersonal Psychology & Grief Therapy: Known as a spiritual and holistic form of therapy, Transpersonal psychology focuses on experiences of interconnectedness such as during states of flow, sereneness, and meditation, and while using certain therapeutic substances, such as psychedelics. In the context of grief, this modality can help a person striving for connection with nature, and greater self alignment, and those interested in exploring their spiritual and religious beliefs and connections. Group & Family Therapy: As highlighted above, Group and Family therapy are effective modalities for those looking for greater communal support, collective processing, and learning how to better communicate and connect. Our practice offers a variety of the modalities presented above. If you have questions about a modality that you do not see listed, please contact us and a member of our staff will return your inquiry in 24-48 hours.
  • Is group therapy good for grief?
    Group therapy is a supportive modality for addressing grief, as it provides a space for peer support, communal validation, decreased isolation and loneliness, normalization of certain experiences, and an opportunity to share without fear of judgment. Group therapy encourages the expression of difficult emotions that may be more challenging to have with friends and colleagues, and is a platform for practicing how to advocate for your needs. Our grief therapy group offers a unique opportunity to utilize creative practices to express and address grief, that doesn't solely rely on the use of verbal processing. We have found that grief is often difficult to talk about and that words do not always express our experiences justly. In addition to creative interventions, such as writing, drawing, and painting, our incorporation of mindfulness exercises aids in down-regulating your nervous system at the end of group, and are additional tools for you to practice at your leisure when overwhelmed with the distress of grief. If you are interested in learning more about our grief group and whether this might be a good fit for you, reach out by clicking here. A member of our staff will return your inquiry in 24-48 hours.
  • How soon should you have bereavement counseling?
    The timing for starting bereavement therapy is different from person to person. Taking into account the nature of a loss, a person's readiness and interest in therapy, availability of supportive factors and coping skills, and cultural factors can influence when and if a person will seek bereavement counseling. It's important to remember that the healing process is unique for everyone and so there is no right or wrong time to seek therapy and that regardless of when your loss occurred, it is never too late to start grief therapy.

Existential anxiety therapy can help you discover your purpose.

Picture this: you're walking through Grand Central or Central Park, looking around you at fellow pedestrians rushing to their destinations, and you're struck with this anxious pit in your stomach, wondering "what is the meaning of all of this? what am I doing here?" That, my friend, is some existential anxiety. Before your self talk starts going down a rabbit hole - seek treatment. You don't have to feel stuck in life. If you are a New York state resident struggling with anxiety and think you'd like to work with an existential, person-centered, relational therapist then reach out to one of our therapists for anxiety (NYC). At Authentically Living Psycholoigcal Services we specialize in anxiety disorders and all experiences of anxious distress.

We look forward to the possibility of working together.

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