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When getting or providing treatment for anxiety it is important that both the clinican and the client are being mindful of the following factors

When getting or providing treatment for anxiety it is important that both the clinician and the client are being mindful of the following factors:

  1. How aware the client is of experiencing anxiety in their body, the internal anxiety triggers and the internal avoidance mechanisms which perpetuate the difficulties. We want to have a full and clear picture about the problem before we go deeper to help the client with the internal emotional triggers.
  2. Assessing how high the anxiety gets and in which context, and what is the individual capacity to tolerate internal distress is very important. There is a certain level of anxiety which disconnects the part of the brain that is responsible for objective thinking, and at which our whole being becomes about survival. At this point any deeper psychotherapy work stops being effective and immediate attention to anxiety reaction and its down regulation is required.
  3. We also want to know whether anxiety problem is fluctuating or permanent, how long has it been present, when it occurred in the first instance and what it looked like at its worst.

Some people need more time to be ready to face emotionally confronting experience just because it feels too scary or their body has difficulty tolerating intense experiences and they get too overwhelmed. There is nothing wrong with that, it just means that the therapy should proceed with more caution.

When working with the clients whose anxiety gets high and who get overwhelmed with anxiety, we first focus on helping our clients to understand and regulate their anxiety and helping them to build up their bodily capacity to tolerate their internally distressing experiences before we move on to working with them on processing of those emotional experiences at a deeper level – a process which aims at gaining emotional and psychological freedom.

Because some mild levels of anxiety is a normal part of our lives, we consider that the ultimate goal is NOT to fully remove anxiety, but to help person with anxiety that is having a negative impact on their lives and their ability to deal with the tricky situations, instead becoming an emotionally free individual.

Valeria Zoteyeva, Health Psychologist
This post is an intellectual property of the Melbourne Health Psychology Centre (c) 2019


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