Due to the COVID-19 crisis, all clients are currently being seen through teletherapy (phone or videoconferencing).
Panic Disorder Treatment in Reston VA
Treatment of Panic Disorder (Panic Attacks/Anxiety Attacks)
We have treated panic disorder with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for over two decades. We are heavily invested in providing up-to-date and scientifically grounded care. A deep concern for the well-being of our clients motivates us to provide the most responsible care we can.
We keep up with the scientific literature, devote considerable thought to understanding the unique aspects of each client's difficulties, and we frequently engage in peer consultation with our large network of highly experienced colleagues.
CBT treatment for panic is an evidence-based approach. Strong support for CBT's treatment of panic appears in some of the most prestigious psychiatric/medical journals in the country.
We are long-time full members of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) and the Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies (ABCT). Our participation in these organizations has helped refine our skills over the years by attending numerous professional meetings and workshops. As university professors, we taught a great many doctoral students in clinical psychology how to treat panic disorder.
During a panic (i.e., anxiety) attack, you may feel terrified and experience powerful bodily symptoms of anxiety. You may sweat, feel your heart pound, hyperventilate, and experience dizziness. The symptoms can be so extreme that many people feel they are having a heart attack or feel they might faint.
To escape these symptoms, patients go to great lengths to avoid situations that trigger attacks. They may avoid planes, shopping malls, driving, and crowded places. The avoidance can radically restrict one's lifestyle (known as agoraphobia).
Our Treatment for Panic
Although having panic disorder can make feel utterly out of control, it is actually quite treatable. In fact, panic disorder is one of the most well-studied and successfully treated problems among all psychiatric conditions. The therapy is intensive, targeted, and often short-term. The goal of CBT for panic is to get you functioning like your normal self as quickly as possible.
A solid history of the problem is critical in order to clarify the diagnosis and to identify the unique factors that are driving your panic. Not all who suffer from panic are the same. For instance, some people tend to over-breathe, while others tend to under-breathe.
Individualized Treatment Plan
Following a detailed assessment, we will develop an individualized treatment plan. There are a number of interventions and procedures we will consider. Each is backed by solid CBT theory and years of clinical research. The major interventions include breathing retraining, psychoeducation, interoceptive (i.e., internal) exposure, situational exposure, and mindfulness training.
Through a series of clinical exercises, people with panic attacks break the psychological association between physiological symptoms and a feeling of terror. Early in treatment you will learn, in great detail, about the cycle of your particular patter of panic attacks.
After the assessment and psychoeducation phase, we will develop an individualized program of gradual therapeutic exposure exercises to the particular symptoms you experience.
Exposure to Symptoms
Exposure to symptoms of panic is critical. It is well planned exposure that allows fear to habituate and tolerability of symptoms to increase. Exposure is always done gradually, thoughtfully, and collaboratively. It is never attempted until a trusting therapeutic relationship has been established.
During the course of treatment, clients reach a point when they can watch their symptoms come and go without these symptoms triggering panic attacks. As the number of attacks sharply decreases (often they are eliminated entirely), most clients gain the confidence to approach previously avoided situations.
Treatment is terminated when clients patients have few if any panic attacks, no longer fear panic symptoms, and no longer avoid situations because of fear of an attack.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center of Northern Virginia
1800 Michael Faraday Drive, Suite 206
Reston, VA 20190
(one block east of the Wiehle-Reston Metro Station)