Cliff Carter, LCPC

Understanding and Treating Anxiety 

Anxiety has 3 components that work together:

The Physical component which includes muscle tension, irritability, fatigue, restlessness and difficulty concentrating.

Our brains are designed to respond to perceived dangers and threats by sending messages to the autonomic nervous system. This autonomic system has 2 branches that regulate anxiety called the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System.  

The Sympathetic system prepares the body for fight or flight (it is the body’s accelerator) and the Parasympathetic helps the body regain balance and return to a normal resting state after arousal (it is the body’s braking system).

Research has shown that chronic worry and anxiety is the result of low Parasympathetic activity (meaning low levels of applying the brakes). It is NOT the result of high Sympathetic arousal. This means the problem is NOT that we are getting anxious, the problem is we are not regaining balance and returning to a normal resting state after we get anxious.

Our accelerator is working but our brake is not working which leads to chronic, unmanageable anxiety.

Effective treatment for anxiety does not mean eliminating ALL anxiety.

Effective treatment for anxiety means getting our Parasympathetic (braking) system to work.

The Thinking component which includes shifting our attention towards the source (or perceived source) of the threat. Thoughts become focused on a sense of impending doom and a belief that negative events are very likely to happen even when their actual probability is very low. We also tend to minimize the possibility of positive outcomes and focus exclusively on the worst possible outcome as if it is certain to happen.  This chronic worry makes it hard to stay focused on what is actually happening right in front of us.

Chronic worry doesn’t just mysteriously happen.

Chronic worry is a result of our thought process.

The Behavioral component which includes behaviors designed to lessen the amount of worrying such as being over prepared or procrastinating or refusing to do a task to avoid worrying about being able to complete it. Finally, some behaviors are designed to prevent the chances of negative outcomes happening such as safety checking again and again.

Successful treatment for anxiety addresses all three components.

Is it time for you to get support and guidance?

From Cliff:

“I have helped many people who struggled to see how to make the changes they want, deal with their past or handle their current situation and can help you develop ways to improve your life and find hope, healing and peace so that everyday life works better.

I use a non judgmental, strengths based approach and am grounded in well researched therapy models to specialize in helping people overcome challenges in their thoughts, feelings and behaviors by working together to set realistic goals and make helpful and realistic changes.

Prior to entering private practice I worked in a children’s hospital, an adult hospital and in an intensive outpatient program and am amazed at the growth many of my clients have made when they were given the right tools and support.”


Therapy is a brave step to take. Yet, hope and healing are healing are possible when you have a good therapist that can listen, understand, and help you get through the issues that your are dealing with.  

You can gain better coping skills, and a better outlook, regardless of whether you are suffering from a past issue, a current problem, or a future concern.

timeclockCliff Carter, LCPC is a therapist in Kansas, providing counseling in Johnson County, Kansas

Contact Cliff to arrange an appointment.

 Cliff uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT has been clinically demonstrated as an effective psychotherapy for dealing with problems ranging from minor issues to major psychological problems.

Your past experiences, current interactions with others, and your unique genetic makeup – all combine to influence how you see the world around you, and how you cope with it.  You may have learned to have a negative view of yourself, of others, or see the world as being a dangerous place.  It may be difficult for you to believe that you can learn skills to help you view yourself, others, the world, or even the future in a different light, with a more healthier perspective.  Cliff can provide you an opportunity to expand and modify your view on life!

Cliff enjoys working with those who have had trauma, abuse, and who are afflicted with anxiety and specializes in those who have had past trauma and those who are afflicted with severe anxiety!