What is anxiety all about?
In my practice as an ACT therapist, anxiety is present in some form in the vast majority of cases. So what is anxiety? and what is it's purpose? Anxiety is an integral part of the human person. It is 'in' us to protect us from danger. Anxiety is our radar and defence system. It can warn us of the presence of a threat or impending danger. Surely this can be a good thing and something to be acknowledged, so why then is it described in some mental health literature as a 'disorder'?. The problem then is, anxiety can show up even when there is no obvious signs of danger. That is when it becomes problematic. Anxiety is the 'base' emotion for several other conditions such as; OCD, panic attacks, agoraphobia, fear of heights etc.
The ACT literature on anxiety suggest that anxiety in it's various forms is the most common reason that people seek help from mental health services.
On a personal and individual basis anxiety can have devastating effect on the person who is experiencing it. When we feel anxious, we tend to avoid people, places and things, This behaviour of avoidance can become all encompassing to the point where the person is unable to leave their home, because of the fear of having a 'panic attack'.
In therapy, the client is helped to acknowledge and accept anxiety as an emotion that is neither good, nor bad. It is just another emotion that we humans experience from time to time. When we have certain feeling/emotions we tend to create a particular behaviour in response to these emotions. As mentioned above avoidance is the dominant behaviour we meet in anxiety presentations. When we avoid people, places and things that cause us to become anxious, what we are really avoiding is the physical sensation of anxiety. Practicing techniques that help us become more comfortable with that sensation can have a positive effect on the severity of the condition. During therapy sessions anxiety may show up as the client recalls certain events. When this occurs it gives the process an ideal opportunity to work on changing our relationship with our anxiety. In this process, the client is encouraged to let go of the fight or 'struggle' they may be engaging in. They can then practice mindful breathing, as they breathe in and around the sensation of anxiety. The client is encouraged to 'make room' for and 'sit' with the discomfort of the sensation instead of trying to change it. Allowing this feeling to be present without trying to change it's content can have a powerful effect on the outcome of therapy
So if you or a family member are experiencing anxiety or indeed any other anxiety related problems why not make an appointment with a competent CBT/ACT therapist to-day. Your anxiety can be worked through in short, focused and evidenced based interventions. The usual numbers of sessions to bring about change for this presentation is four to five one hour sessions, with a few follow-up sessions if needed.