What Type of Therapy Should I Choose for Panic Disorder?

Psychotherapy and Panic Disorder

When it comes to the treatment of panic disorder, psychotherapy is one of the most commonly sought out treatment options. Psychotherapy, simply shortened to therapy, involves meeting with a qualified mental health professional on a regular basis. During these therapy sessions, you can expect to work on specific goals, including developing ways to manage your symptoms and cope with living with panic disorder.

Read ahead to learn about the most common types of therapy used to treat panic disorder:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of therapy that works to help you learn new ways of thinking and behaving. Much of CBT is based on the idea that one’s thinking or cognitions influences his or her behaviors. If you can change one’s negative thought process, then the person may also shift from maladaptive behaviors to healthier actions.  

CBT can also help a panic disorder sufferers learn effective ways to manage panic attacks. This form of therapy focuses on the client’s growth, using goal setting as a means of treatment. CBT often involves homework assignments, in which you work on personal development assignments between sessions. For example, the therapist may ask you to keep a panic attack diary, in which you track your progress with symptoms. Using your diary for reference, you would then report back each to your therapist.

Through putting the work in to pursue goals, CBT can help you cope with panic and anxiety. 

Panic-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (PFPP)

PFPP is a type of therapy that involves the use of concepts from psychodynamic theory. This theory mostly views mental health disorders as stemming from unconscious emotional instability.

As far as panic disorder is concerned, this theory claims that panic disorder symptoms are largely the result of unconscious perceptions and unresolved personal conflicts.

Through PFPP, the therapist can help you in uncovering your unconscious emotional turmoil, perceptions, and defense mechanisms that are contributing to panic and anxiety. He may also use transference to help reveal your deep-seated emotions. PFPP therapy is often kept brief, meaning that you may only need to attend relatively few sessions to receive the benefits of this form of therapy.  

Group Therapy

Along with challenging symptoms, many panic disorder sufferers are also dealing with feelings of loneliness and isolation. Group therapy can be an excellent way to work through recovery while sharing your experiences with others who can relate to what you are going through.  Group therapy is facilitated by a mental health specialist who will encourage open communication, involvement, and the personal development of each of the group members.

Overall, group therapy can assist you in building your social support, learning new ways to manage symptoms, and finding the encouragement you need for recovery. 

Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)

Panic disorder can impact many areas of your life, especially your relationships. The stress of dealing with your condition is often felt by those closest to you, mainly your partner or spouse. MFT can help you and your loved one to cope with any discord in your relationship while working towards ways to manage life with panic disorder. The therapist will help you and your partner with building effective communication, letting go of blame, and learning to be supportive of each other. MFT affords you the opportunity to develop a healthier bond with your partner so that you can come together in facing panic disorder. 

Art Therapy

Some panic sufferers are more able to express themselves through creative and visual processes than talk therapy alone. The therapist facilitates art therapy by having you use a variety of art materials as a way to reach into your inner world. You won’t be expected to have any level of creative ability. Instead, art therapy can allow you to use the creative process as a way to move towards healing. Art therapy can also be relaxing, boost your mood, enhance self-expression, and even help improve your self-esteem. 

Choosing Therapy for Panic Disorder

There are many types of therapy that have been proven to safely and effectively help treat the symptoms of panic disorder. When looking into your treatment options, it is important to find a mental health professional that holds the proper credentials and licensing for where you live. You may want to try by searching an online directory, such as on Psychology Today, which allows you to search for providers based on criteria, such as which insurance they accept and what types of mental health conditions they treat.


Corey, G. (2012). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 9th Ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson.

Malchiodi, C. (2007). Art Therapy Sourcebook. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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