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Anxiety management: Participants’ experiences of a physiotherapeutic group treatment in Swedish psychiatric outpatient care

Journal article
Authors Helena Ström Öhlund
Louise Danielsson
Susanne Rosberg
Published in Physiotherapy Theory and Practice
Volume 36
Issue 2
Pages 276-290
ISSN 0959-3985
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
Pages 276-290
Language en
Keywords anxiety disorders, body awareness, group therapy, Physiotherapy, qualitative research
Subject categories Physiotherapy


© 2018 Taylor & Francis Anxiety disorders are among the most persistent mental health syndromes. There is extensive research showing effectiveness of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy interventions targeting anxiety, while knowledge is still sparse for other treatment options. The aim of this study was to explore how participants with anxiety disorders experience a physiotherapeutic group treatment in psychiatric outpatient care, and their perceived ability to manage anxiety within two months after participating in the treatment. Semi-structured interviews with participants were conducted to explore experiences of the treatment. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis, which resulted in one main theme: Reconnecting to the body in the supportive atmosphere of a group. Six categories reflect the main theme: (1) sharing with others supported by the group, (2) grounding oneself in the body, (3) getting to know the body and learning to manage its reactions, (4) learning to tolerate bodily sensations of anxiety, (5) gaining a more compassionate attitude toward oneself, and (6) challenging old patterns to become more active in life. The participants reported that their ability to reconnect to their bodies increased so that anxious sensations became more endurable and acceptable after treatment. The supportive group context was described as valuable, enabling the participants to feel safe enough to start exploring new ways to manage anxiety. In conclusion, this study suggests that a physiotherapeutic group treatment can be a useful add-on treatment to the standard treatment models of anxiety disorders, including psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy, since it targets the embodied, nonverbal domain of anxiety.

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