Many clients suffer from stress, panic, and worry needlessly. They’re either concerned about turning up at a therapist’s office in person, simply don’t know where to look, or can’t access professional support for some other reason.
If you’re a therapist who has considered delivering mental health treatment for anxiety online, this guide includes some of the best therapy tools for the job.
Before you explore this guide, we recommend trying out Quenza’s $1, 1-month therapy software trial. Quenza’s unique digital toolbox will help you deliver seamless interventions and programs for anxiety, and contains everything you need to craft professional custom treatments that help them achieve their wellbeing goals.
How To Treat and Help Clients with Anxiety
Anxiety disorders and symptoms vary widely and can cover everything from social anxiety to panic disorders, generalized anxiety, phobias, and beyond.
While they are among the most common mental health issues that therapists deal with, they are highly treatable with professional intervention, guidance, and support.
A vast range of psychological frameworks is used to treat patients with anxiety, depending on their condition.
Four widely applied approaches that can be delivered online and in face-to-face therapy include:
- Cognitive Therapy: To explore how cognitive patterns lead to or aggravate anxiety symptoms
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: This aims to manipulate dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns to alleviate psychological distress
- Exposure Therapy: Systematically exposing a client to feared internal or external stimuli to reduce their fear reaction to it., and
- Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Often combined with acceptance-based therapy, this can include a range of approaches that combine attention regulation and self-awareness techniques. Its aim is to help clients replace maladaptive coping strategies with more helpful ones, and to counter the impact of the stressors that are linked to anxiety.
Treating Anxiety Online
Online anxiety therapy largely employs the same frameworks, evidence-based techniques, and approaches as offline treatments, and the two are often combined in an approach known as blended therapy.
While the precise structure of digital anxiety therapy is determined by the treatment plan that a client and their therapist decide on, blended therapy can involve:
- Live, interactive therapy sessions on video chat, audio, or instant messaging software
- Sharing online assessments, exercises, lessons, and other digital tools for anxiety
- Working with a peer-support group as part of a group therapy intervention, and
- Continued monitoring of a patient’s progress, moods, and mental health status.
Regardless of the techniques employed, the overarching goal of anxiety therapy is to help clients reduce their anxiety and stress, and improve how they function on a day-to-day basis.
3 Popular Anxiety Interventions
Largely due to their convenience, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness, digital anxiety interventions have gained huge popularity.
They enable therapists to implement evidence-based treatments based on a client’s specific circumstances and goals in a way that’s both efficient and has been shown to be effective.
For clients, they offer the much-needed guidance and support they need to learn and apply coping skills that can help them alleviate stress, worry, or panic.
For a closer look at how they work, let’s explore three of Quenza’s most popular anxiety interventions.
Quenza’s Cognitive Restructuring exercise, shown below, guides clients to explore the negative thought patterns and distortions that can contribute to anxiety.
Using examples, self-reflection prompts, and a step-by-step worksheet, this customizable Expansion activity asks the reader to identify unhelpful automatic thoughts, fact-check their accuracy, and evaluate them on reflection.
By answering questions with some psychoeducation on cognitive restructuring, they’ll learn how to substitute anxiety-related automatic with fair, rational, and balanced cognitions instead.
Eye of the Hurricane Meditation
This therapy exercise aims to help clients connect to an internal source of calm and peace using mindfulness-based coping strategies.
Eye of the Hurricane gives your client a guided MP3 meditation to listen to in their own space and time, followed by reflection prompts to further explore the issues underpinning their anxiety.
The Chessboard Metaphor
Using The Chessboard Metaphor to offer a new perspective is a way to help clients who struggle to suppress their anxious feelings.
This exercise invites them to replace ineffective stress mechanisms with more a helpful approach of acceptance, by demonstrating what it means to take a step back and resist the urge to control their thoughts.
How To Support Clients Online: A Guide
Online interventions may comprise a significant part of online anxiety therapy, but a therapist’s guidance and support are also critical.
To help your client achieve better outcomes from their therapy, it’s down to you to:
- Determine and select the most appropriate anxiety interventions for their circumstances, capabilities, goals, and interests
- Design a treatment plan that applies them in the most effective order and frequency
- Build and maintain your client’s motivation levels using suitable patient engagement strategies
- Monitor and evaluate their progress, using feedback to inform your treatment, and
- Answer questions, offer support, and touch base regularly with your patients as their treatment plan unfolds.
While these steps are probably familiar to most therapists and counselors, there are a few differences between supporting clients offline and in a digital context.
The good news is, it’s easy with Quenza. Use this step-by-step guide to help you.
Crafting Pathways For Treating Anxiety: An Example
Building and delivering an anxiety treatment plan is as simple as using Quenza’s Activity Builder and Pathway Builder to:
- Design (or customize) your anxiety intervention
- Include it as a step in your care pathway or treatment plan, and
- Automate the delivery of your assessments, interventions, worksheets, activities, and other client homework.
Why not try crafting your own pathway as you read?
1. Create Your Anxiety Intervention
There are two ways to develop an anxiety intervention for your clients; the first is to build them using Quenza’s drag-and-drop Activity Builder tools:
This is as straightforward as titling and saving a blank template to create a completely bespoke intervention – just drag and drop pre-made fields into your Activity Builder template to insert page breaks, text boxes with your custom text, numeric scales, check boxes, drop-down menus, or even custom videos.
It’s ideal for constructing unique activities that you can’t find anywhere else, or which don’t (yet!) exist in Quenza’s Expansion Library of popular assessments, like the digital Hamilton Anxiety Scale we’re designing below:
The second way to create personalized anxiety interventions is by browsing Quenza’s Expansion Library for a relevant anxiety intervention by type or tag. Try “Meditations” as we’ve done for popular audio guides or search by coping, resilience, or whatever suits your clients’ treatment plan.
Save any treatments that you want to customize, then open them in your Activity Builder to make them entirely unique using your drag-and-drop tools.
2. Build Your Pathway
With your activities complete, you can create an organized, automated pathway to deliver them at a time that best suits your patient’s treatment plan.
By selecting Activities as steps in a new Pathway, you can determine the order that your chosen interventions will be delivered and when:
You might want to start with an intake form as we’ve done above, before delivering an anxiety assessment as your second step and psychoeducational tools as your third. All you need is your Pathway Builder, and the order and content of your steps are entirely up to you and your patient.
3. Automate Your Pathway
Your Pathway Builder also helps you decide when you’d like each step to be automatically delivered by setting custom intervals between each, as below.
If you’d like to set up custom reminders in advance or make certain steps mandatory, that’s possible too.
Finally, the beauty of Quenza’s Pathway Builder is its flexibility – within each Pathway, you can even edit steps for your specific pathway, or create brand new interventions to make each treatment completely unique.
For inspiration for your assessments, worksheets, exercises, quizzes, lessons, and more, check out the next section.
5 Ideas and Activities From Quenza
Every activity in Quenza’s Expansion Library is entirely free for you to edit, so if you find a tool that’s useful but not quite what you’re after, go right ahead and modify it!
Here’s a sample of some Expansion Activities that might be of value to you:
- The Body Scan Meditation – a guided mp3 meditation for relaxation, calm, and mindful self-awareness
- Spending Time In Nature – with tips to help your clients get the most out of a restorative walk outdoors
- The Private Garden – a structured visualization for stress reduction
- Pushing The Ball Under Water Metaphor – an acceptance-based exercise for coping with anxious feelings, and
- Open Monitoring Meditation – a mindfulness-based exercise to help clients better deal with troublesome thoughts and emotions.
If you’re looking for more tools to help your patients cope with stress, worry, or distress, check out our 11 Best Psychology Interventions To Apply with Online Clients and other Therapy Tools.
You’ll also find more helpful walkthroughs to make sure your Activities turn out as beautifully unique and effective as you like over here: Tools For Therapists: How To Effortlessly Create Activities. Let us know how you go with a comment below.
We hope you enjoyed reading this resource. Don’t forget to start your $1 trial of Quenza’s tools for professional online therapists.
Quenza’s customizable tools are designed to help you deliver high-caliber treatment for anxiety online so that you can help others more effectively, and will give you all you need to truly enhance your impact as a digital therapist.
- ^ Öst, L. G., & Breitholtz, E. (2000). Applied relaxation vs. cognitive therapy in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38(8), 777-790.
- ^ Carpenter, J. K., Andrews, L. A., Witcraft, S. M., Powers, M. B., Smits, J. A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta‐analysis of randomized placebo‐controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety, 35(6), 502-514.
- ^ Kaplan, J. S., & Tolin, D. F. (2011). Exposure therapy for anxiety disorders: Theoretical mechanisms of exposure and treatment strategies. Psychiatric Times, 28(9), 33-33.
- ^ Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169.