Creating an Effective Anxiety Treatment Plan: What to Include + Example

Treatment plans are detailed documents created by mental health professionals to assist clients dealing with various behavioral health issues, such as developmental disorders, mental health disorders, and substance use disorders. They act as guides for therapy, outlining specific and achievable goals that clients aim to reach, along with smaller steps that can be taken to progress toward these main objectives. Continue reading to discover the process of crafting a treatment plan specifically tailored to address anxiety.

Setting Goals and Objectives With Your Clients in Your Anxiety Treatment Plan

Treatment plans must be tailored to each client’s unique needs and motivations. It’s important to consider the stages of change when setting goals because clients may have ideas about goals they’re not quite ready to pursue, and that’s okay. Meeting clients where they are and respecting their readiness for change can strengthen the therapeutic relationship.

When addressing anxiety, research indicates that effective treatment options include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) stands out as one of the most successful evidence-based therapies for anxiety and related disorders. Depending on clients’ specific concerns, other therapeutic approaches like psychodynamic therapy, behavioral therapy, and exposure therapies may also be beneficial. Common medications for anxiety include SSRIs and SNRIs.

Before delving into treatment plan goals and objectives for anxiety, let’s consider a hypothetical case to guide our discussion on treatment plan development.

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Example Client:

Your client is a 32-year-old man seeking assistance for his anxiety symptoms. He has no history of mental health issues, abuse, or neglect, and mentioned that his symptoms started six months ago without any apparent life changes triggering them. He described feeling restless, fatigued, and irritable, struggling to calm his mind at the end of the day. He finds it challenging to stay focused at work and believes his symptoms are affecting his performance, despite being satisfied with his career and receiving positive feedback from his employers. He has good relationships with his family but limited social support beyond his immediate family and a small circle of friends.

Anxiety Treatment Goal Example 1

Examples of goals and objectives that may be included in your treatment plan include:

Goal: Decrease symptoms severity

o   Objective: Attend counseling sessions regularly, as scheduled

o   Objective: Begin using relaxation techniques including deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation when symptoms arise

o   Objective: Keep a running log of symptoms including when they are present, how long they last, any triggers that caused them, and note if they had a negative impact on level of functioning 

Anxiety Treatment Goal Example 2

Goal: Improve personal coping skills

o   Objective: Participate in psychoeducational sessions that teach about anxiety, and effective coping skills that can be used in response to symptoms

o   Objective: Implement mindfulness practices into routine to promote present-moment awareness throughout the day

o   Objective: Apply cognitive-restructuring strategies to address unhealthy automatic thoughts that may arise when symptoms are present

o   Objective: Begin incorporating positive affirmations, self-compassion, and self-care into routine to promote positive self-esteem 

Anxiety Treatment Goal Example 3

Goal: Strengthen emotion regulation skills

o   Objective: Identify cognitive distortions through use of cognitive restructuring

o   Objective: Engage in regular physical activity for a holistic approach incorporating natural ways to reduce stress

o   Objective: Actively practice emotion regulation skills, including mindfulness and distress tolerance skills

o   Objective: Develop and implement a relaxation routine that includes mindfulness practices such as deep breathing and meditations, promoting awareness of emotions and emotional states

These goals and objectives are examples that are tailored to typical symptoms associated with anxiety. This client has a mild presentation and appears to be high functioning, clients who experience more severe symptoms, or those with a specific anxiety disorder, like phobias, will likely have more detailed or personalized goals and objectives on their treatment plan. 

What to Include in an Anxiety Treatment Plan

Ideally, clinicians complete their treatment plan in conjunction with their client. If you are unable to do so in a session, you can use the information you have learned about your client from their initial assessment and previous sessions to complete a drafted treatment plan, that you can then review with your client in their next session. In addition to goals and objectives, other information that can be helpful to incorporate into your treatment plan include:

Agencies Involved and Plans for Care Coordination

Other professionals involved in care coordination should be identified, and you may choose to include their appropriate contact information. Depending on your client, this can include a prescribing doctor such as a Psychiatrist or Primary Care Physician, Social Worker, or Case Manager.

Clinical Diagnoses

Your treatment plan should include any clinical diagnoses that have been established, and may include the assessment dates, if known.  If you completed the necessary assessments and evaluations yourself, you can include the specific tools that were used to support your listed diagnoses or concerns. This can serve as a reminder for future use for a comparison of results.

Mental health concerns that are currently being managed, or those that are not impacting your clients presenting concern can still be identified on your treatment plan, as they may or may not begin to exhibit symptoms down the road.

Current Medications and Responses

Psychotropic medications are another item that you can include in your treatment plan, including the dosage and frequency of use. You may also include the noticeable changes your client has experienced while taking their medication.

Presenting Problem and Related Symptoms

This section of your treatment plan will provide a comprehensive description of your client’s current challenges, and the symptoms they experience. This section should provide details about your client’s current challenges and how they are impacting their every-day-life. When describing symptoms, you can make note of their frequency, intensity, and any triggers that bring them on. Make a note of when the symptoms and presenting problem began appearing. This section should directly influence the goals and objectives included in the next section.

Goals and Objectives

The core of your treatment plan lies in the identified goals and objectives. Treatment goals are the overarching, often long-term objectives that your client aims to achieve. These goals should be practical, specific, and achievable, and you may opt to include multiple goals in one treatment plan. This enables the plan to serve as a progress evaluation tool over time. Each goal is accompanied by a set of objectives, which are smaller steps necessary to reach the main goal. Objectives are typically short-term, allowing clients to acknowledge and celebrate their progress towards their goals. Many individuals may find goals overwhelming, leading to resistance or self-sabotage behaviors. Breaking them down into smaller steps can help by demonstrating to clients that their efforts matter and are making a difference in their lives, even if the impact isn’t immediately apparent.

Specific Interventions to Be Used

Keeping in mind best practices and evidence-based methods, you can list the specific therapeutic approach and interventions that will be used to support your client as they work towards their treatment goals. Mental health concerns are often diverse like the individuals living with them, which means that cookie-cutter treatment plans are often ineffective and don’t meet expectations. This may take a bit of research and practice in the beginning of your career, however, many clinicians often become fluent in their skill set as they gain more experience. If you ever feel as though you could use additional training or support, continuing education courses could be a valuable resource for you.

Family Involvement

This section will vary from client to client, as it is completely dependent on their situation. Children, adolescents, and teens will likely have family involved in their treatment. This can include family therapy sessions, or educational sessions for loved ones about the mental health concern at hand. Family involvement can include parents, partners or spouses, siblings, and children.

Additional Services and Interventions

Additional services and interventions being used may tie into the care coordination section at the beginning of your treatment plan, and indicate other services being used. This may or may not be relevant to each client.

Estimation for Completion

Treatment plans should have areas to make note of review dates, as this should be done regularly to check-in on progress being made. Treatment plan reviews provide you with an opportunity to modify goals if the client’s presenting concern has shifted, and to formulate new ones if they have accomplished a previously identified goal. As with other components on your treatment plan, your termination date and aftercare plan can be modified to meet your clients’ needs as time progresses.

Aftercare Plans

Aftercare plans are an important portion of a treatment plan because it can provide appropriate referrals or plans if your client was to end or terminate treatment before they complete their treatment goals. Your aftercare plan can include referrals for continued treatment, support group, peer lead groups, primary care or prescribing physicians for medications, and community resources available to them. 

Final Thoughts On Creating an Anxiety Treatment Plan

Thank you for taking the time to explore this guide on developing an anxiety treatment plan. Once you’ve crafted your plan, you can shift your focus to clinical work with your client. Many find that using worksheets can enrich and structure therapeutic sessions, serving as helpful reminders for clients when they’re at home. It’s normal for clients to need time to process the information discussed during sessions, and having a worksheet to take home can aid in their understanding and connection to the material. TherapyPatron provides a range of worksheets suitable for therapy and counseling sessions, including our Anxiety Worksheet Bundle.

Treatment plans can be used to provide structure in clinical settings, and help clinician’s plan ahead for sessions while respecting their clients individualized needs and goals. When the framework for therapy is established, you can plug in evidence-based approaches that will effectively support your client as they work towards their goals, and help them recognize the personal growth they have made while engaging in therapy.

TherapyPatron.com helps mental health professionals better serve their clients. Our (editable, fillable, printable PDF) therapy worksheets can help you streamline your practice, effectively deliver different types of therapy, and support your clients be the best version of themselves.

  • Sale!

    Anxiety Worksheets Bundle (Editable, Fillable, Printable PDFs)

    Rated 0 out of 5
    Original price was: $199.99.Current price is: $129.99. Add to cart
  • Sale! Counseling Treatment Plan Template

    Counseling Treatment Plan (Editable, Fillable, Printable PDF)

    Original price was: $24.99.Current price is: $19.99. Add to cart

View our Counseling treatment Plan that corresponds with this resource view all of our Anxiety Worksheets

Resources:

  • “Anxiety Disorders.” National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed March 20, 2024. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders.
  • Bandelow, Borwin et al. “Treatment of anxiety disorders.” Dialogues in clinical neuroscience vol. 19,2 (2017): 93-107. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.2/bbandelow 
Anthony Bart
Author: Anthony Bart

Anthony Bart is a huge mental health advocate. He has primarily positioned his marketing expertise to work with mental health professionals so that they can help as many patients as possible.

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