Counselling for Anxiety
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Anxiety is an emotion which usually involves an element of worry and fear. It is a state of mind but can also affect our thoughts, behaviours and physical reactions in our body. Although anxiety can be unpleasant, it is actually an evolutionary survival mechanism.
When we find ourselves in dangerous or stressful situations, anxiety helps us by preparing our body to run away or fight back- this is known as the 'fight versus flight ' response.
We all feel anxious at times and some anxiety helps us to be more alert and focused, however, too much can really impact on your life. It can start to be a real problem when you use the fight versus flight response when there is no need. You may think 'I won't be able to cope' or that something bad will happen and this leads to avoidance of situations.
At the beginning of the counselling I may ask you to complete some mental health assessments to assess the severity of your anxiety, depression and worry which is helpful for both you and me and also your GP.
It is important to identify your triggers: When or where are you more likely to get anxious? If you can see the patterns then perhaps you can do something differently. Avoiding situations and using safety behaviours will only serve to maintain your anxiety over the long term. We will look at strategies that will enable you to confront your fears and reduce your anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) will help you to notice your physical symptoms and reactions and the intensity of the emotions you feel. We then look at your unhelpful thoughts and images for example - What went through your mind? What disturbed you? What button is this pressing for me? What is the worst thing that could happen?
Then we try and see if there is an alternative thought and more balanced perspective for example - What would someone else say about the situation? Is there another way of looking at it? What advice would I give to someone else in this situation? Finally we look at what you could do that works, is helpful and has the best outcome.
I often suggest keeping a journal so that it becomes easier for you to notice the triggers and record them and then write down what you did differently that worked.
Solution Focused Therapy will help you to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound). Setting goals will help you make vague desires and wishes more concrete and divides big tasks into smaller tasks. You can make a list of the things that you want to change and see how you will notice that the changes have started and that you are moving in the right direction. We can then look at exceptions so when your anxiety is not noticeable or absent, is diminished or less troublesome and when you manage despite your anxiety, ignore it and the methods you can use to distract yourself.
You can use an approach called Scaling - so on a scale of 1-10 whereby each number represents a rating of the problem - 1 being acute anxiety - I will ask you to notice where you are on the scale followed by what would need to happen in the next week to get you up two points on the scale. Finally we then determine how far you have to go to be satisfied and what represents sufficient progress for you at this point in time.
The Miracle Question is a useful question to ask as it encourages you to think about and picture how your life could be if a miracle occurred. This takes the focus off how bad your anxiety is and so emphasises times where it is non existent and may help you to view life very differently.
Apps can also be helpful for tracking your mood, helping with sleep and for mindfulness and guided meditations. You may prefer to write down how you are feeling and I can suggest an array of journals and other books to read.
It's important to look for your strengths and resources to help change the ways you think about your anxiety. This will lead to successful goal setting and so enable you to see the differences it will make for you and your life, the sorts of things you will then see your self doing and who can give you moral and practical support. Finally you can ask your self how reaching your goal is a good thing and how it will change your life.