Anxiety – From Foe to Friend

In my role as a Counsellor and Psychotherapist, I meet many people who suffer with anxiety.  The symptoms they experience are usually a combination of the emotional and the physical and the result can be a very disturbing and destabilising sense of anguish.

An Unhelpful Context.

I find myself disappointed by the way in which society in the Western World talks about anxiety, today.  Anxiety is spoken of, as if it is something sinister and something that we humans should be free from.  It is increasingly considered to be an affliction that we should medicate away and the whole inference is that of seeking to remove it; generating negative beliefs about anxiety.

You Are Safe.

In almost two decades of working within the field of Mental Health, I have developed a different approach to resolving the disturbing symptoms of anxiety.   I believe that anxiety is but one of our many emotions; something completely natural and utterly safe for us to experience.  Anxiety is something natural for us to feel and, surprising to those who suffer as a result of anxiety, it is actually within us as something that has evolved to keep us safe.  It is our friend and it offers us an opportunity.

I work with my clients to teach them how anxiety can be a ‘friend’; something we need not fear.  Anxiety is communicating something to us and we must learn to listen to anxiety and to respond to it in a way which prevents it escalating into ever increasingly troublesome and distressing symptoms.  Anxiety can, in fact, be overcome and managed through simple yet effective techniques.  It can also teach us about ourselves at any given time.

All too often, I find that people speak with their GP about anxiety and come away from their consultation with medication.  Counselling and Psychotherapy offer the opportunity to not only explore why anxiety has been triggered within us, but allow for us to learn to befriend and better understand anxiety as an emotion and set of symptoms that are triggered to help us stay safe, well and free from harm.

Teaching the Teacher.

In my role as Clinical Supervisor; offering teaching and guidance to other Counsellors and Psychotherapists, I help fellow Therapists to learn how to support their own clients into learning to healthily respond to and cope with anxiety, something that can be life changing for those who have suffered in anguish for a long time.

I help fellow Therapists step away from offering to remove, cure or rid people of their anxiety and instead help them to teach their clients that anxiety is natural, manageable and something that protects us.  We need not remove anxiety, we simply need to develop a natural and healthy relationship with it and a helpful response to it.  Why should we seek to remove one of our emotions?  Far better that we learn to make anxiety work for us and to learn to be free of distress.

Take time to watch, read about and listen to how anxiety is spoken of in society today.  You will easily recognise what I am describing, in this Blog post.  The Media, Therapists and people all around us are teaching us to fear anxiety and to seek to be rid of it.  There are more natural and far healthier ways to respond to anxiety.

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