Therapy Blog for Orem, Spanish Fork & South Jordan

Counseling for Anxiety

anxiety, counselingAs a therapist offering counseling for anxiety, I have learned that clients use the term ‘anxiety’ as a catch-all for many different emotions. At least this is how many people use it. Being able to recognize your emotions is one key to mental and emotional health. 

As I do counseling for anxiety, I notice that they will say they feel anxious about something without fully recognizing what they are actually feeling. They might be feeling hurt, for example, and not recognize what they are feeling as hurt, but rather call it anxiety. It is important to differentiate between anxiety and other emotions. One way to do this is to understand the difference between primary and secondary emotions.

A primary emotion is the first emotion or a more true emotion that you are feeling. If your spouse tells you that they do not love you anymore, you might feel hurt. This is the primary emotion you feel.

A secondary emotion is one that comes after the primary emotion as a reaction to it. In the example here, you might initially feel hurt, but then feel anger. Anger is the secondary emotion that plays a role of covering up what you are really feeling. This happens, in part, to protect yourself from further hurt. In the moment that your spouse tells you they don’t love you anymore you are being hurt. There is a part of you that does not want to be hurt anymore so that part avoids saying, “Wow, I feel hurt when you say that’, but rather talks you into seemingly protecting yourself by using anger and lashing out. Therefore, burying the hurt you feel and not letting you be vulnerable. 

Anxiety as a Secondary Emotion

Anxiety can be a secondary emotion when it serves the purpose to distract from or numb other emotions. When you are feeling hurt, alone, afraid, stressed, burdened, confused and other emotions, anxiety can come along and cover all of them up so all you feel is anxious. If this is the case, you want to ask yourself the question, “What am I really feeling?” This will help you get down to your primary emotions so you can pick them up and let them go. Unless you do this, you won’t be addressing what is really going on and therefore cannot heal and move on. 

Anxiety Counselors

We have been providing counseling for anxiety in Utah County for over a decade. Our counselors have tools to help you and your spouse find happiness together and individually. We just opened up a counseling center in South Jordan as well.

Make sure to read our article on an effective breathing technique for reducing anxiety.

Written by Triston Morgan, PhD

Utah Therapy


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