Millions of people struggle with anxiety every day. Many are able to manage their symptoms and live satisfying lives. Managing anxiety begins with an effective treatment plan.
What is a Treatment Plan?
A treatment plan is a collaboration between you and your mental health provider (or providers). It should outline the major problems you are experiencing and rank those problems into an order, with those causing the most interference in your life at the top of the list. The plan should also include goals, short-term and long-term as well as a list of treatment options to help overcome anxiety symptoms.
Although you may have many different symptoms that are interfering with your life, there are probably a few that are more significant than others. By discussing some of the major problems you are experiencing with your counselor or mental health provider you can begin the process of choosing those problems causing the most difficulty.
Some questions you may want to ask:
- What problems am I experiencing?
- How does this problem affect my daily functioning?
- How would my life improve if this problem was under control?
The answers to these questions should help you and your health provider rank difficulties and determine which areas should be addressed first.
The first step to setting goals is to create an ideal resolution to the problem. For example, your first problem might be: “unable to attend social functions.” The resolution to this, in the broadest sense would be: “be able to attend social functions without experiencing anxiety of having a panic attack.” This however, is just the first step to setting goals.
Once you have a broad resolution, it is up to you and your counselor to come up with specific steps to reaching your goal. For example, steps may include different treatment options, such as medication, therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques.
SMART goals are considered to be:
You should be able to measure your progress during each step of your goal.
The intervention portion of a treatment plan should include medial support for accomplishing each objective. For example, what is your counselor going to do to help you reach your goals? What is the role of your physician?
In addition to the role of each person on your treatment team, interventions should include strategies that you will carry out as well. This can include: beginning an exercise routine, daily meditation, attending therapy sessions.
In other words, the intervention section of your treatment plan should outline the duties and responsibilities of each person involved in your treatment, including yourself. Some people also include supportive family members and outline specific ways they can offer support.
When writing the initial treatment plan, dates for progress evaluations should be included. This should include:
- Review of original goals
- Criteria for measuring progress
- Review of services and treatments
- Current medical status
After the progress review, you should have a good idea of which interventions were helpful and which interventions did not seem to provide the relief you were looking for. This information can help you and your treatment team to revise your treatment plan to fit your current situation.
Remember, a treatment plan should be flexible and fluid, changing as your needs and symptoms change.
For more information on treating anxiety:
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.