We live in anxious times. We are more aware of what is going on in the world thanks to social media and the internet. We have the environmental crisis, we have had a pandemic, environmental disasters, and technological change is happening faster than we can cope with. In families, almost all parents have to work because the cost of living is so high. More is expected from young people than ever before; a 24/7 diet of social media makes them feel inadequate, and their future has never been so uncertain. And, in the context of all of this, we have an epidemic of anxiety.
I went through extreme anxiety during a very difficult time of my life 15 years ago. I know just how terrifying and overwhelming it can be, and I also know that it is completely possible to live an almost completely anxiety-free life, as I do now!
My approach to anxiety is different for everyone I work with, because everyone experiences it differently, and there are as many different causes as there are people. I will ask you how you would like us to go about freeing you from anxiety, and I will check in with you every step of the way.
Here are some of the things we might discuss together:
Discovering how anxiety has started to take over your life
Anxiety is normal, and sometimes we actually need it, but not when it is making life miserable or stopping you from doing things. We look at what is happening for you, and how anxiety has got out of hand.
You may not understand why anxiety comes along and how it works in the body. Sometimes understanding this can be really helpful, including finding out that no matter how scary it feels, it cannot hurt you.
Getting to know the anxiety you experience
Everyone experiences anxiety differently. It might be what you might call social anxiety, panic attacks, generalised anxiety or something else. If we can put the ‘A word’ on one side and cuddle up to what it is actually like, we might find that there is another way of describing your experience that fits better. It might be loneliness, confusion about choices in life, feeling scared in a relationship. We will work out what will help YOU, not a one-size-fits all approach. We might create a name for the anxiety which allows you to distance it from yourself and empowers you. With young people we might draw it, call it ‘the anxiety monster’ or whatever name they come up with. Bringing playfulness and fun can really help. Anxiety hates it!
Co-researching and growing your anti-anxiety wisdom
Co-research was invented by David Epston. Sometimes professionals forget that your experience gives you wisdom about anxiety. We will research and grow the wisdom & anti-anxiety strategies you may not realise you already have.
Drawing on the wisdom of others
Anxiety often runs in families, but it rarely gets talked about, or talked
about in a helpful way. The good news is that family members (and also friends), may have wisdom that we can draw upon. It’s also very helpful to have a supportive team and once the problem is talked about openly you may discover you have more support than you had realised. Anxiety likes to get people on their own, but when you are able to talk openly about it to people in your life, it loses some of its power.
Coming up with an anti-anxiety plan together
Together we will work on an anti-anxiety plan tailor made to you which will help you to take our power back from the problem. Then we will try it out. We will experiment until you have your life back from anxiety. This might include:
- Learning to experience anxiety rather than resisting it (anxiety persists when you resist.) Journey processes and drop-through processes are very helpful for this.
- Challenging the nightmare thoughts anxiety puts in your head (drawing on CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy).
- Developing bravery in the face of fear, at a pace that is right for you.
- Helping you to ‘get out of your mind’ and back into your body when anxiety strikes.
- Speaking back to anxiety and challenging the lies it tells you.
- Protecting you from vulnerability to anxiety in the first place by reducing what is known as the stress response. This often includes work on your physiology e.g anti-anxiety exercise, diet and blood sugar management, improving sleep, new research into cold water immersion ( cold water can dramatically decrease anxiety and depression), yoga for mental health.
Counselling for Anxiety: Children, Adolescents and Adults
I work with children from age five (sessions are always with parents), young people and adults. I look forward to working with you and helping you to find freedom from anxiety.
You 1, Anxiety 0: Win your freedom back from fear and panic to keep calm in a crazy world by Jodi Aman.
The Anatomy of Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming the Body’s Fear Response by Ellen Vora MD is published by Orion Spring in paperback, ebook and audio download. Order your copy at guardianbookshop.com.
I was helped with my anxiety
Amy ( aged 19)