Residential Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

Living in a residential treatment community can be an adjustment for someone suffering from an anxiety disorder. We are careful to honor each person’s journey and ease them into life at CooperRiis as we don’t want to cause more anxiety to the resident. Residents are empowered to be an essential part of their recovery team, and they set a comfortable pace of healing for themselves.

At CooperRiis, we focus on recovery rather than illness or diagnosis and shift the focus onto wellness and possibility. Each new resident who arrives at CooperRiis meets with our clinical team and participates in a complete mental health evaluation enabling us to get a clear picture of the whole person, present and past symptoms, and their medical treatment history. We develop a partnership with each person to plan for their future. We call this plan the Dream Statement.

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The Dream Statement

Imagine living your life with no plan, no hopes for the future, and nothing to motivate you. It sounds pretty bleak. It is the situation that many of our residents find themselves in when they arrive at our residential community because they don’t feel that they are in charge of their healing or that healing is even possible. The Dream Statement helps our residents to embrace the possibility that recovery and fulfilling life are possible.

The Dream Statement gives our residents clear goals. It is far more than a bucket list of goals. Over time, the Dream Statement becomes a roadmap to recovery. Identifying hopes and dreams for their lives, residents begin to focus on the future instead of past negative memories.

Residents may dream of having a job that enables them to support themselves and live independently. Smaller goals of getting out of bed, taking medication on a set daily schedule, and learning skills to work well with others contribute to this larger goal. Small victories contribute to the more significant dream.

A young woman writes in her journal while sitting on her bed

By setting small achievable goals and plans for the future, residents start feeling hope, hope that their lives can change.

The dream gets closer with each small step forward.

Medication, Evidence-Based Therapy, and Other Treatment Modalities for Anxiety Disorders


The most effective treatment for anxiety disorders is multidisciplinary. Medication can be beneficial and is generally seen as safe and effective, mainly when prescribed as part of an integrated treatment plan developed by the Director of Integrative Psychiatry. Finding the most effective medications at the best dosage to reduce anxiety symptoms without provoking harmful side effects is always the goal. Our goal is to minimize symptoms without sacrificing the overall quality of life.

Supplements, such as nutraceuticals, vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts, may also be used in the treatment. If found to affect symptoms positively, they may need possible reduce medication dosages.

While data suggests that medication helps anxiety disorders, a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and exercise in a community context is most helpful for resident recovery.

Psychotherapy for Anxiety Disorders

Depending on the person and the anxiety disorder diagnosed, the following are some of the most effective evidence-based therapy modalities for treating anxiety:
  • Group Therapy (these sessions can be beneficial for those with social anxiety because people are so supportive and patient at CooperRiis)
  • Individual Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) A solutions-oriented form of talk therapy helps individuals challenge negative and distorted thinking and change destructive emotions and behaviors. CBT is one of the root modalities at CooperRiis.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)  Dialectical behavior therapy provides residents with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for treating anxiety that results from trauma. It is beneficial for residents who have PTSD. EMDR is also helpful in shifting the emotional reactivity around a belief and bringing down the ‘charge’ around it, encouraging a more rational thought process.

Other Modalities

Along with therapy and medication, we teach mindfulness and relaxation techniques to our residents. Yoga, meditation, and other practices can be wonderfully beneficial to those with an anxiety disorder.

Please continue reading this page for more about how Community and Family also play a role in recovery.

Thriving in a Supportive Residential Community

Real recovery involves far more than a one-size-fits-all prescription, so CooperRiis addresses every single facet of our residents’ lives.

Seven Domains of a Whole, Healthy Person

Because everyone is different, some domains will receive more emphasis than others during treatment, but all are attended to. We allow residents to go to their chosen house of worship, celebrate holidays, participate in mindfulness exercises, yoga, and other spiritual pursuits. For people dealing with anxiety symptoms, relaxation and mindfulness, and yoga can be helpful.

After the hectic pace of modern life, our property offers a break for the nervous system. There are opportunities for quiet and contemplative space, as well as communal spaces to interact with others. We have meandering trails, a lake, trees, and opportunities to work on the land. In fact, within weeks of joining us as CooperRiis, residents often express that they feel like they can breathe a little easier because our community is so supportive, and the property is so relaxing.

Along with living in a community, our residents learn how to work in a residential community. Residents spend about part of their day at CooperRiis on a work crew. The work crews provide structure and purpose. Residents receive guidance and support from other people while developing transferable skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. There are several crews — kitchen, garden, woodshop, animal, greenhouse, and art — all of which contribute to our community and the individual well-being of participants.

Family Education and Support

At CooperRiis, we recognize the importance that family has in the recovery process. Family support of someone diagnosed with an anxiety disorder can reduce the rate of re-hospitalization by up to 75 percent over a three-year period (SAMHSA). People with mental health challenges need a stable support system to thrive once they reintegrate into the world. Because of this, family members are an essential part of the treatment team.

Ideally, the resident and family participate in recovery, and we strive to balance empowering our residents with utilizing appropriate family support. The idea is to encourage independence while knowing that support from family is there should our residents need it.

We are also very mindful that when a family member is anxious, it can trigger anxiety in the resident. Familial concern and anxiety, even when it is well-intentioned, can be an obstacle to healing. Our goal is to strengthen the entire family unit and assist family members with new ways of communicating and offering support that is less likely to trigger anxiety symptoms.

We are also very mindful that when a family member is anxious, it can trigger anxiety in the resident. Familial concern and anxiety, even when it is well-intentioned, can be an obstacle to healing. Our goal is to strengthen the entire family unit and assist family members with new ways of communicating and offering support that is less likely to trigger anxiety symptoms.

Some of the ways we support families are:

  • Each resident has a family liaison/Recovery Coordinator
  • Educating families about how they can best support their loved one
  • Regular family meetings
  • Family education weekends twice a year on our campus
person giving potted flower to another person

“CooperRiis is a beacon of light that helps us believe our ideals of peace-filled healing care are real and possible and should be the standard of care.”

Resident's Family Member

Is Treatment for Anxiety Disorders at CooperRiis Effective?

The CooperRiis model of recovery works. CooperRiis’ evidence-based clinical services and therapeutic community approach are supported by an extensive body of research and clinical experience. Data collected during a ten-year study shows individual recovery progress within the CooperRiis residential program based upon therapeutic community principles and a Seven Domains Enhanced Recovery Model (Young, Schactman, and Snyder, 2014).

Results demonstrate recovery progress on many different domains of wellness in addition to symptom reduction, including gains in functioning, emotional well-being, a sense of purpose, and hopefulness. Over 80 percent of our residents pursue employment, volunteer service, or school in our community programs and increasingly manage independent living.

Our program helps residents achieve their best life by tailoring our services to their needs. We honor each person’s recovery journey by trusting them to work with us toward their best state of health and happiness.

2019 Alumni Survey Results

1 %

are engaged in either competitive employment, volunteering, or going to school.

1 %
are living independently with roommates or on their own.
1 %
report they have had no psychiatric hospitalizations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fight or flight! Almost everyone has heard of this essential reaction of the body. Anxiety, the subjective experience of the ‘fight or flight’ response, is an entirely normal stress reaction. When your fight or flight response is working correctly, it alerts you that there is danger without over-stressing the body. The threat is perceived, and you either leave the situation as quickly as possible or stand your ground and fight. Once the danger is past, the body relaxes once again into its normal state. When the fight or flight response isn’t working correctly, an anxiety disorder can develop when excessive feelings of fear, nervousness, and anxiety arise even when there is no real danger. Anxiety disorders affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. In any given year, the estimated percent of U.S. adults with some of the specific anxiety disorders are:
  • 7-9% a specific phobia
  • 7% social anxiety disorder
  • 2-3% panic disorder
  • 2% agoraphobia
  • 2% generalized anxiety disorder
  • 1-2% separation anxiety disorder
Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders. (Above data from the American Psychiatric Association)

Anxiety Disorders Signs and Symptoms

Because the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders are so varied and imitate so many diseases, anxiety is often misdiagnosed. Anxiety symptoms can affect almost any area of the body.

The most common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:

Common Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety:
  • Excessive and irrational fear
  • Excessive and irrational worry
  • Always anticipating the worst
  • Feeling tense and jumpy
  • Inability to stay calm
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • General uneasiness
  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Continually watching for signs of danger
  • Difficulty concentrating
Common Physical Symptoms of Anxiety:
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Stomach upset/diarrhea/nausea
  • Frequent urination
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle tension or twitches
  • Trembling
  • Insomnia/issues with sleep
  • Inability to be still
  • Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet (Paresthesia)

This list of the most common symptoms of anxiety is by no means exhaustive. Anxiety manifests in hundreds of ways and combinations and is unique to the individual.

Since anxiety can manifest in many ways, there are several types of anxiety disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder feel excessive, persistent worry with little or no reason. This constant worry interferes with daily activities and can harm personal relationships. With a generalized anxiety disorder, everyday life is overwhelming and often exhausting.

Panic Disorder

Those diagnosed with panic disorder experience recurrent panic attacks. During a panic attack, the intensity of anxiety disorder symptoms is heightened for a short period – usually 10 minutes or less. The d of the symptoms during a panic attack can be so extreme that people believe they have a heart attack or other life-threatening issues.
Common symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Surges of overwhelming panic and or terror
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Difficulty breathing or hyperventilation
  • Choking sensation
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Feeling dizzy, faint, or lightheaded
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying

Phobias, Specific Phobia, and Irrational Fear

A specific phobia is an intense and persistent fear of a situation or activity that is generally not harmful. Those with phobias often know that their distress is disproportionate, but they still cannot overcome it. People who have a phobia will go to extremes to avoid whatever frightens them.

One common phobia caused by anxiety which dramatically interferes with normal activities is agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is the fear of being outdoors or of being in a situation from which one either cannot escape or from which running away would be difficult or embarrassing.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Everyday social situations and interactions are a landmine for people with a social anxiety disorder. Those suffering from this disorder are preoccupied with the possibility of being embarrassed, ridiculed, judged, or rejected in social situations. As a result of this fear, they avoid social settings and often miss connecting with friends and family.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

A person with separation anxiety disorder experiences excessive fear of losing the person to whom they are closets.  They are very anxious when separated from the people to whom they are attached and may refuse to be apart from the people who are the focus of their attachment. The extreme feelings of anxiety and fear may last beyond established norms for children (4 weeks) and adults (6 months).

Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder

The effects of an ingested substance may directly cause an anxiety disorder. Symptoms can result directly from the intoxication or may be due to withdrawal from alcohol, drugs, caffeine, and related substances.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event or learning that a traumatic event has happened to a loved one. PTSD is most often associated with veterans and wartime involvement, but many experiences can cause PTSD. Learn more about the treatment of PTSD at CooperRiis by clicking here.

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We treat adults aged 18+ with anxiety.
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