Chapter 3: Literacies across the disciplines

3.9.1 Communication as a treatment or prevention for anxiety (synthesis)

Kade Mindry

English 102, February 2021

Anxiety is one of the most diagnosed disorders in the world. Whether it be social anxiety, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or one of the many other types. I have experienced severe anxiety at a younger age and have managed to overcome it through communication therapy. However, there are many people who choose alternative methods of therapy like medication. There is no correct nor incorrect way to approach the therapy process of someone dealing with a form of anxiety, but over the past few years, there has been significant research favouring the different forms of communication therapy and how it helps those with anxiety overcome the disorder. According to Barnett, Communication styles can be defined as “the characteristic way a person sends verbal, paraverbal, and nonverbal signals in social interactions” (Barnett et al, 4). According to Gee, ‘Acquisition’ is something that is learnt as if it were a habit, like second nature. It can be argued that communication is acquired over time, as one matures and gets older, whether it be via texting, speaking, writing or one of the other communication styles. However, often people do not know what their preferred form of communication is, and how they can use that to communicate their thoughts, hence the need for therapists, to help one discover what and how they can successfully communicate. (Gee, 20) 

The first article I looked at was “Social Anxiety and Perceived Social Support: Gender Differences and the Mediating Role of Communication Styles” by Michael D. Barnett. The purpose of this study was to investigate different types of communication styles “as mediators of the relationship between social anxiety and perceived social support.” (Barnett et al, 3) This means that Barnett underwent the study in order to try and establish whether there was a relationship between different communication styles, and social anxiety. This article specifically spoke about social anxiety and whether or not there were differences between genders when it came to the different communication styles, and what may be causing these differences, be it a perceived LACK of social support and hence the lack of people to communicate with etc. (Barnett et al, 6). I found this article interesting because it analyzes the different forms of communication styles (varying from expressiveness, to more negative forms of communication like verbal aggressiveness) and it breaks down the link and common problems between social anxiety and communication and examines social support and how it is linked to communication. (Barnett et al, 5) The link that was found was that individuals with higher social anxiety were more likely to avoid perceived negative social outcomes by developing a “self-protective” style of communication in which there is very little “self-disclosure”. (Barnett et al, 11) In order to get the desired results, participants completed an online survey and received extra course credit for participating. The authors found that there were no gender differences with regards to social anxiety or perceived social support, however, social anxiety was found to be more prominent where people of both genders perceived they had very little to no social support and did not express their thoughts as they felt they had nobody to express them to. (Barnett et al, 11) The authors found that women had higher levels of expressiveness and emotionality, while men had higher levels of preciseness, verbal aggressiveness, “questioningness”, and impression manipulativeness, however, there is no explanation for what causes this. The common theme in this article was communication, and how it links to mediating the different forms of anxiety (in this case, social anxiety). I had anxiety when I was younger and communication helped me deal with it, I am interested to find out why. Support is very dependent on social support, which in one way or another is a discourse, whether it be friends or family, people just don’t always understand that.  

The second article was communication focused therapy for anxiety and panic attacks by Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. This article breaks down what anxiety is, as well as looking into the different communication patterns, possible side effects, the process to understanding and approaching anxiety, and what communication focused therapy is and why it is important. The conclusion was that based on many years of research and looking at different papers that have been written, and it was found that communication is the main most important part of change. It was established that when there is a meaningful exchange of words, thoughts or messages, and a mutual flow of information in a ‘safe environment’, it brings a positive change in both people who take part. (Haverkampf, 39) The study looked specifically at public speaking anxiety and its relationship to different “psychological stress indicators” at four different stages of the delivery. (Haverkampf, 9) The author found that communication is some way or another was extremely important and “the vehicle of change” (Haverkampf, 39) It was found that communication lowers anxiety because it allows people to ‘de-stress’, and essentially makes more meaningful information available to those we can trust, allowing them to help us and support us if it is needed. (Haverkampf, 18) It allows people to adapt to their environments, and live life according to their own interests and values. It was found that the reason there was such success with communication, was because it allows people to “grasp who they are, and their wants and needs in life”. 

Communication allows us to have a sense of self and a grasp of who we are and what we need and want in the world, but it has to be learned similar to our communication with other people.” (Haverkampf, 18) This study follows the common them of communication. It investigates what it is, why it helps, and the positive effect it has on coping and dealing with anxiety.  It is an in-depth study that helped me generate a broader understanding of anxiety, whilst looking at some forms of communication that can help, and different factors that may even worsen the effect anxiety has on one’s life, like social setting. 

The third article is Communication-Focused Therapy (CFT) for Social Anxiety and Shyness by Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. I chose this article because it takes the information from the previous article, and shows it in a more specified study, particularly to do with social anxiety which therefore links the first article and the second article at the same time. This article is also written by Haverkampf and hence has very similar findings and research, however, it is more detailed as it is focusing on a specific type of anxiety. It looks at why communication is important, why people with social anxiety struggle to communicate, and what is so dangerous about a lack of communication. Haverkampf believes that communication is the roots of how people pursue what is valuable to them and fulfill their aspirations, communicating is an essential part of leading a happy life. However, people with social anxiety who struggle to communicate, essentially have their lives interfered with as they are unable to develop helpful communication patterns, and this interferes with “life itself” (Haverkampf, 108) “Individuals with social anxiety often see their communication patterns as a direct expression of themselves rather than as a skill which can be experimented with to find ways of interacting with others that ultimately fit one’s personality and sense of self.” Haverkampf came to these conclusions by means of research, previous papers, other studies. He believes that the most important factor of communication, it that it allows for an exchange of meaningful messages, which allow the individual to become better connected to oneself. (Haverkampf, 110) This study is once again the same common concept of anxiety, however, puts the research and information from the first two articles into one. I saw it as a ‘conclusion’ of the first two articles. It was written by the same author as the second article and so many of the concepts are very similar, however, this applies the previous information to a specific type of anxiety disorder, which happens to be the same as what the first article was about.  

In conclusion, communication is a vital part of not only dealing with anxiety, but also avoiding anxiety of many different forms. It allows one to express their thoughts and is also very dependent on the social circle and the level of trust the person has in the people they are communicating with. 

Works cited  

Jonathan Haverkampf (2017) Communication-Focused Therapy (CFT) for Social Anxiety and Shyness, Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2020). 

Jonathan Haverkampf (2019) COMMUNICATIONFOCUSED THERAPY® (CFT) FOR ANXIETY AND PANIC ATTACKS, Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2020). 

Michael D. Barnett (2020) Social Anxiety and Perceived Social Support: Gender Differences and the Mediating Role of Communication Styles, Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2020). 


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