Anxiety Treatment – First Principles
Anxiety is an enduring and vital capacity of humans that gets out of hand, perhaps particularly in today’s complex and highly stimulating environment.
So what does this tell us about effective anxiety treatment for all types of anxieties?
- It tells us that we have to take into account the unconscious aspects when treating these problems
- It tells us that anxieties are natural responses that become habitual ones
- It tells us that anxieties can look like a problem with body chemistry, but that this is not true in the vast majority of cases
- It tells us that new skills, approaches and understandings can show us how to be calm again in situations that previously caused anxiety and panic
- New, more appropriate patterns and associations can replace unhelpful ones
- With a combined approach of thinking strategies , relaxation and visualisation techniques, knowledge and lifestyle alterations, even the most severe of panic and anxiety disorders can be cured.
How Andrew Richardson approaches anxiety treatment
1. Trance work to decouple the primitive limbic fight or flight firing and to de-traumatise
We will be looking to find the source of the anxiety in a traumatic experience – with a view to rewinding and so to de-traumatise. In many cases it is obvious what the trauma is , but not always, and so often the skill of skilful counselling is to find the trauma, however hidden and obscure it is – almost as a forensic exercise.
The REWIND Technique
REWIND is a trance method refined from Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) by the Human Givens founders . It can also be understood as Imaginal Exposure Therapy. This is important, as defined this way it can be accepted as consistent with NICE guidelines.
The key elements of REWIND are:
- Activation of the memory
- Deep relaxation
- A dissociated rehearsal and revisiting of the memory , which has the effect of shifting the memory from the crude limbic systemto the pre-frontal cortex.
After the REWIND has been completed , powerful and effective trance work is also possible. This can either rehearse beneficial change or work in other ways to enhance future possibilities and resources.
2. Development of a better relationship with the anxiety – not fearful, but accepting
It is often necessary as the first step in anxiety treatment to challenge and overcome excess worrying and projection and to establish a new relationship with the anxiety. No longer to be scared of the body manifestation of anxiety and to push it away – but instead to welcome it and so reduce its power.
Work with and adapt AWARE – accepting the anxiety
- Accept the anxiety – Decide to be with the experience. Replace anger or rejection of with acceptance
- Watch the anxiety – observe without judging – be detatched and study it. Rate it from 1 to 10and notice when it goes up or down and why. Remember you are not your anxiety – be in it but not of it
- Act with the anxiety – Keep behaving normally and doing what you intend to do. If you run your future anxiety will go up. If you stay you will de-condition the anxiety
- Repeat the steps – Continue accepting your anxiety, watching it and acting with it until it goes down to a comfortable level
- Expect the best – What you fear most may not happen. Surprise yourself by the effective way you handle it
S – Stop/interrupt that behaviour
T – Take a step back
O – into your Observing Self
P – Practice awareness and emotional intelligence
3. The development of new thinking styles, relaxation help and useful visualisations for anxiety treatment
We are talking of skillful counselling principles – notably Normalisation. This is the clear explanation that anxiety is natural and rooted in human physiology and will typically be an early part of effective intervention – to take pressure off anxious clients.
The particular manifestation of the anxiety may then need to be dealt with, either by challenging unhelpful beliefs or more probably by reframing and trance work. The treatment of performance anxiety will be different from a phobia or a social anxiety – the trance and visualisation work will have a different emphasis.
4. Being primed and confident to take action to make necessary life changes – the important end part of most anxiety treatment
To understand how the anxiety is impacting adversely on the client’s capacity to get essential needs met. Although a formal needs audit is not always necessary, implicit needs evaluation is a key part of information gathering – to establish what goals may need to be set, what action might need to be suggested later on and how visualisation and trance work might need to be structured.
There is also no doubt that in serious cases, the initial Trauma and PTSD has a devastating impact on that person’s ability to lead a balanced life. Work and relationships are difficult to sustain, addictions take hold and lives can be ruined. In these cases, more good counselling will be needed. But the principles remain the same – taking away trauma and getting needs met.
It is also always interesting to know where needs are being met (despite the anxiety) as this will point to where resources and motivation are strong.
5. The teaching of meditation and being present
The devil is in the detail and to find out more of what really helps anxious people, then do go to the relevant web page below.