Anxiety Counselling

Providing the right support to employees with anxiety is hard to do alone. A great way to do this is with the help of anxiety counselling. These counselling sessions help employees cope with their condition during everyday life. If you don't help your staff, you could end up losing them. Not to mention, facing tribunal claims and paying fines.

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Health Assured team

07 May 2019

What is anxiety counselling?

Let's look at what anxiety counselling is, if it's a mental disability, and how to support employees with it.

Anxiety counselling is a form of therapy which helps people reduce anxiety. It's a form of 'talking therapy' used by psychiatrists and other medical professionals.

It's hard to define what anxiety is. But people often talk about feelings of intense fear, worry, and stress. Feeling anxious is something that's pretty normal. You might feel it during a job interview or an exam. But sometimes, anxiety can begin to take over a person's entire life.

With the right therapist, counselling can help employees reduce or stop anxiety attacks for good.

How to manage your anxiety

Watch our interview with Health Assured's Head of Clinical Support Kayleigh Frost and counsellor Sajid Iqbal. This discussion focuses on anxiety and the best way you can manage it on a day to day basis.

What are the benefits of anxiety counselling?

There are many benefits when it comes to anxiety counselling.

It's different from other types of psychological therapies. In these sessions, a therapist aims to reach two goals.

Firstly, the person knows what their anxiety symptoms are. And secondly, they'll know how to regain control when they do feel anxious.

Let's look at the benefits for these talking therapies:

  • Understand what causes anxiety.
  • Know what their triggers and symptoms are.
  • Overcome anxious thoughts and panic attacks.
  • Regain control through prevention methods.

What causes anxiety disorder?

We don't know what exactly causes anxiety and panic attacks. But scientists and psychologists believe it comes from:

  • Brain development.
  • Family genetics.
  • Environmental factors.

Anyone can suffer from anxiety - regardless of their age, gender, or race.

Phobias can also cause anxiety disorders, too. When a person goes through trauma, they're bound to feel anxious if they face it again.

What are common symptoms of anxiety?

During talking therapies, a person can present a range of anxiety symptoms.

These include both mental and physical symptoms. And any of them can bring a person's day to a grinding halt.

Physical symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Heart palpitations.
  • Stomach aches and vomiting.

Psychological symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Being on edge.
  • Feel worry, stress, or panic.
  • Hard to focus.
  • Easily irritated.
  • Negative thoughts.

Are there different types of anxiety disorders?

Yes, there are five common types of anxiety disorders.

People can mainly experience one type of anxiety disorder. Or they could suffer from a mixture of them, throughout their life.

Here are different types of anxiety disorders:

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic form of anxiety. When a person has GAD, they go through high levels of worry, fear, and stress.

Most of the time, people develop it out of the blue. It’s not seen as too serious, and it doesn’t stay long. But this depends on how it came about, and what leads to their anxiety attacks.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is when a person faces unpredictable episodes of intense fear. These happen often, so it's hard to track down what sets them off.

These overwhelming feelings can trigger anxiety, worry and panic. People can also suffer from chest pains, irregular heartbeats, and shortness of breath.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is when a person gets fixated on repetition or compulsions.

People with OCD have recurring obsessive thoughts that reoccur often. They also show patterns of compulsive behaviour, like cleaning.

OCD actions are hard to predict or control. But they give the person a small moment of relief.


From spiders to heights, there are hundreds of things people have phobias of.

Most of the time, these objects or situations aren't harmful to us. But it causes feelings of fear to grow - leading to a panic attack.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is when a person goes through a traumatic event.

They start to relive the moment in their mind - believing it's real. These feelings of stress and worry can temporarily paralyse them. It also makes it hard to distinguish what's reality and what's not.

Apart from these examples, people can suffer from other forms of anxiety. For example, separation anxiety, substance-induced anxiety, and social anxiety disorder.

anxious employee sat at a desk

What methods are used in anxiety counselling?

Therapists use all sorts of counselling methods to help people overcome anxiety. These range from self-help to psychological treatments.

Let's take a look at the methods in more depth:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of counselling.

It's a different form of 'talking therapy' used by therapists. CBT helps people understand what's causing their condition.

Therapists will look for root causes and help with anxiety. They'll also create a self-help plan where they'll learn how to think or react.

A talking therapy service like CBT can help in the long run. Through plans, people can track what could lead to a potential trigger.

Exposure therapy

Usually, when a person faces a traumatic event, they'll do anything to avoid it again.

But this is the opposite during exposure therapies. Here, the therapist will dive into a person's memories to see where their trauma lies.

Being face-to-face with traumatic memories can be scary. But therapists take care not to make the person feel worse. In fact, after many counselling sessions, people can even become used to the memories.

Exposure therapy can only be done by a qualified therapist. And it's not suitable for all people. This version of talking therapies can help people regain control over their life.

Mindfulness therapy

Mindfulness therapy has become very popular in recent times.

It comes in a range of forms, compared to other therapies. Mindfulness uses forms like audio, visual, and talking therapies.

People will choose which ones work well for them and their condition.

Mindfulness therapies are very beneficial for panic attacks. The therapist uses breathing techniques on the person. This helps them to stop worrying long enough to calm down.

Hypnosis therapy

Hypnosis therapy hasn't been proven to heal anxiety. But it doesn't mean it's not popular.

It's been used throughout history; and is seen as an alternative form of therapy. The person is put into a state of deep relaxation. Here, the therapist will announce control measures for the person. When the person wakes up, they may feel less affected by their anxiety.


If the therapist is legally qualified, they could offer medication to treat anxiety.

There are so many treatment options they could provide. For example, antidepressants or sleeping pills.

It's important to only take medicine from medical professionals. Like a GP, nurse, or psychiatrist.

Exercise classes

Some therapists suggest exercise as a form of anxiety counselling.

Exercise doesn't just help the physical body. It helps with mental health, too. But you don't have to run a mile or swim 50m. A brisk walk or cycle can do the trick.

Regular exercise helps to release small doses of endorphins. These are known as the 'happy hormone'. From here, people are less likely to get caught up on anxious feelings.

Along with exercise, it's important to rest well. GPs may offer relaxation therapies, as a form of healing. This can include anything from taking a break from work, to getting a massage.

Someone making notes while using a laptop

Does anxiety class as a disability?

Under UK law, anxiety may class as disability. But the condition needs to meet certain points first to count as a mental health disability.

Disability is one of nine protected characteristics you can't discriminate against. Meaning, an employee cannot be treated unfairly because of medical conditions.

Under the Equality Act 2010, a disability needs to:

  • Have a ‘substantial adverse effect’ on a person's daily life.
  • Last for at least 12 months (or is expected to).
  • Influence their ability to do normal activities.

Employers have a legal duty of care those whose anxiety counts as a mental health disability. They need to protect their well-being during work and provide reasonable adjustments.

Ignore their rights and you could face a disability discrimination claim. If the claim is upheld at the tribunal, you could face fines and reputational damages.


How to support employees with anxiety disorder

Dealing with anxiety during work can be hard for anyone.

You need to help employees overcome anxiety - with the right support. There are many essential anxiety management techniques that you can signpost employees to

Have open talks about anxiety

Employees with anxiety problems should be able to talk about their condition. They shouldn't worry about any backlash on their job or capability.

Anxiety affects people in different ways. Some might go through small bouts of it. For others, it can leave them with short-term paralysis.

You should make employees feel comfortable enough to share their condition with you. Together, you'll be able to support them to overcome anxiety in the best way.

Provide reasonable adjustments

As we said before, anxiety can class as a mental disability. That means these employees are protected by the law.

You can't treat them less favourably because of their anxiety. And you'll need to make reasonable changes to their wonk conditions.

Some effective strategies to use are offering sick leave for mental health conditions. This can help them during days where their anxiety is particularly bad.

Know their personal triggers

Anxiety affects every person differently. That includes the type of disorder, triggers, and symptoms they have.

Employers should know what their employees specifically suffer from. For example, if an employee suffers from social anxiety, they might find it hard to speak during public presentations.

Ask your employees about their personal triggers. From here, you'll be able to minimise them during work.

You can even ask colleagues and line-managers to spot any issues. This will help the employee reduce stress and anxiety during everyday work.

Deal with mental health stigma

It's important to deal with all cases of mental health stigma.

People don't know enough about what these illnesses are, or how to overcome them. But it doesn't mean they're allowed to hurt or bully people for having mental illnesses.

The best way to deal with this is through education. You can provide mental health awareness training to your staff. Make sure it's given to employees and your HR department. You can even start a support group for employees suffering with mental illnesses.

Let's explore support options for employees with anxiety disorder:

Access talking therapies

The great step to take is offer access to talking therapies.

People use talking therapies for all kinds of common mental health problems. And anxiety is no different.

Think about improving access for your employees. You can offer free sessions through the NHS or privately. Each therapy session will suit the individual's condition. For example, a therapist holds a session where the person gets 'face-to-face' with their biggest fear.

You can even access talking therapies sessions online. These are more tailored to the person's needs. Like, if you wanted a therapist who speaks in your first language.

employee having a coffee on their break

Get expert support on anxiety counselling with Health Assured

Every employer must do their best to help employees overcome anxiety.

This isn't just a legal duty, it's a moral one, too. You'll be able to help them work with confidence and cope with unplanned situations.

But if you ignore them, you could end up losing employees, paying compensation, and ruining your brand-name.

Health Assured offers expert support on anxiety counselling. Our team can help you safeguard employee wellbeing whilst simultaneously meeting your company needs.

We also provide a 24/7 helpline that’s open 365 days a year–helping you care for your staff all year round. Arrange a call back from an expert today on 0844 891 0352

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