Anxiety was what got me into counselling in the first place.
When I was a teenager I went through a deeply anxious phase.
I struggled with social anxiety. I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach, a sense of impending doom that wouldn’t shift. I would panic when I had to go to college or work or be in a public place or talk to someone.
I didn’t really know what was going on, but I knew that I didn’t feel OK.
I went to the doctor, who gave me some medication.
I also withdrew from a lot of life.
What really helped was when I went to see a counsellor. I remember very clearly meeting my counsellor. I was so nervous. All I could manage to squeak out was “I don’t know where to start.”
“How about the beginning?” she suggested gently.
So I did. I said “I was born…” and I surprised myself with how much I had to say once I got started.
It turned out that I needed to tell a story.
I needed to unravel the madness that I was feeling inside my head.
And it took some time, because I had been holding on to a lot of stuff for a long time.
Sometimes I had no idea why I was rambling on about whatever I was rambling on about until I had got it all out.
Sometimes I never quite worked it out.
But gradually I came to feel better.
Later I decided that I wanted to work with people who were going through similarly difficult times. So I trained to become an anxiety counsellor myself, and set up anxiety counselling Hove.
Anxiety Counselling Hove
These days a lot of people recommend cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for anxiety. You might have heard that CBT is the best treatment for anxiety, because some studies have found that it works well in a short time. Who wouldn’t get excited by the idea of a quick fix?
My training included CBT and I find some of the things I learned useful, some of the time, with some clients.
However my main approach to working with anxious clients is not CBT-based.
That is because it is one of my core beliefs that when you feel very anxious, it is because you have been holding on to a lot of stuff for a long time.
(I developed my special interest in working with anxious clients during my counselling diploma, when I chose to research generalised anxiety disorder for my dissertation.)
Thinking about coping mechanisms and day-to-day triggers can be really useful and important and we will do that, when it feels appropriate.
But if you are to be free from the kind of anxiety that makes it difficult for you to get on with your life, and get the best from your work and relationships, my experience has shown me that you need to get to the bottom of it.
I find that the best way to do that is to sit and talk, to untangle your history. We’ll talk about who you are, how you got to where you are today, what happened to you along the way, and how you dealt with it all. And we’ll think about the future, of course, as that is where a lot of your anxiety might be pointing.
Anxiety is a normal part of life, a natural reaction to circumstances when we feel under threat.
Sometimes this is a physical threat, or sometimes it is something more complicated like feeling like your values, your integrity or your autonomy are under threat.
I still feel anxious sometimes now.
But these days it is a specific reaction to a particular thing.
I am able to step outside it, to examine it, to reflect on it and make sense of what its message is for me.
Do you feel like there might be a story that needs telling behind your anxiety? Do you want to get to that place where you feel like you have unravelled some of the chaos inside your mind and can see straight again? Why not come and meet me and see whether I might be the person to work through it with you?