*the article is based on my private practice observations
Anxiety is often a reason why people knock on my door. It is also the subject that I am most drawn to. That’s why I would like to write a short article based on my work experiences about dealing with anxiety.
In short, I approached anxiety in two levels:
- Dealing with symptoms: In the Internet era, people educate themselves about panic attacks and how to ease symptoms. Consequently this level is the most accessible for self-help. Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is mainly focused on this level. Many people come to psychotherapy equipped with the knowledge and exercises how to help themselves with panic attacks. But why do those people still come to therapy? I believe focus in this level is not enough for the long term anxiety relief. In my practice, I focus 80% of my time on second level:
- Deeper approach: Psychotherapeutic relationship offers safe, understanding, trusting environment which is especially important for people with anxiety. For them, knowing that they have safe place, whit expert who they can trust, play enormous role. I notice that people with anxiety often keep their fears and worries to them self, they are overly consider with other people’s emotions and are on the mission not to hurt others, their true content is locked inside them which one day explode into panic.
In time, the therapeutic relationship is safe enough for all the hidden content to come to light, having somebody to talk about it, relieves the burden that is kept inside and coses stress. Often we are so used to carrying a burden that we don’t realize how anxious our mind and body are feeling.
What (not) to expect in therapy
A lot of people believe that there is some kind of recipe for panic attacks solution. And they expect to get it from therapist. There is not just one anxiety, I see different kinds of it, some overwhelming others »just« as symptom form some other mental disorder. Therapy needs to get to its core and there is no recipe for that.
I don’t believe that you can cure anxiety response 100%. Let’s not forget that no matter how unpleasant it is, it is still a normal human response. The only difference it is that by people with anxiety, the centers for danger are triggered where there is no actual life threatening situation. The difference after therapy is that less things are causing us stress. Before it was stressful to go to the grocery store, now it would be stressful when having an accident. That’s a normal body/mind response.