Anxiety affects people on many levels—physical, emotional, and spiritual It can affect your relationships, career, and self-esteem. Effective treatment must deal with anxiety on all of these levels. On the physical level, anxiety management involves relaxation and stress management. It is easy to read about such tools in books or articles but the challenge is practicing them live when experiencing anxiety. I help clients create plans for active management of anxiety on all levels. This work can include exposure therapy: managing thoughts and physical reactions while experiencing a very small dose of the source of anxiety. This and other tools help you gain confidence and the ability to function even when experiencing anxiety.
I also specialize in mindfulness techniques to reduce unwanted thoughts, including negative self-talk and obsessive thoughts. If you are experiencing anxiety you know how hard it is to ignore such thoughts.
Panic is an intense anxiety episode with feelings of fear, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, sweating, and shaking. You may have first learnt you have had a panic attack after going to emergency for the above symptoms.
Many people say the worst part about panic attacks is the fear of having one again. I can help by teaching about the physiological system involved. This knowledge can help you feel more in control. I also help with effective relaxation skills, and a “fire-escape” plan for anxiety and panic. Practicing anxiety management fire-drills help you overcome the fear of panic happening again, which lessens the intensity of the anxiety and lowers the likelihood of further attacks. Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can help deal with triggers and your reactions to stress.
Like anxiety, depression can affect multiple areas of your life. Depression can be the result of something situational, like the end of a relationship; it can also be due to genetic factors, and it can be the result of a combination of things. Some people have complex depression or treatment resistant depression, a form of depression which does not seem to respond to medication, improvements in situation, or traditional therapy.
Depression cause one to self-blame or respond in anger. I can help by teaching mindfulness skills to deal with negative thoughts, to identify alternative realities, and to deal with underlying causes so that treatment is not just a temporary band-aid.
The affects of stress cannot be underestimated. Stress is behind many illnesses and mental health issues. Stress makes any health condition worse: heart problems, diabetes, depression, gut issues. Stress is our physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual response to a negative situation. When your ability to absorb stress and recuperate is overwhelmed by the level and consistency of a stressor, physical and emotional resources are depleted–your tank becomes empty and you stop coping. At some point, your emotional and physical system cannot deal with even simple tasks.
How I can Help: Treating stress involves building resiliency. Clearly identifying and labeling the source of stress is the first step. Mindfulness skills help you focus on the present moment rather feeling overwhelmed (and rehearsing negative outcomes). I can also help with useful tools for breaking stressful situations into manageable steps. Even getting out of bed can be stressful when your tank has been empty for too long. Creating small steps to start coping on a daily level helps you place the source of stress into perspective and get on with the business of living your life.
Compulsive, repetitive, addictive behaviors become an issue when they affect your ability to live the life you want and when they affect those around you. I can help by dealing with the emotional patterns resulting from or contributing to addictive behaviours. If you are on the road to recovery I am familiar with several approaches, including 12 step programs, and can support you in dealing with the emotional repercussions of addictions as well as the emotional impact of life’s challenges–past, present, and future issues. For those trying to come to terms with addictions I can help you find the awareness, motivation, and tools to begin the work of getting your life back together again and facing your challenges in healthy ways.
Trauma is the inability to process an extreme event: seeing someone hurt or killed, being abused, being in an accident. Moving from one city to another or losing a relationship can also be traumatic. I can help you identify stuck thought patterns and gain an understanding of how unconsciously rehearsing these patterns creates stress and worsens symptoms. Identifying alternative thoughts and being present in your life give you a focus other than the stuck patterns. Trauma work also involves a safe place to tell the story of the trauma and reorganize your life-story in positive ways. Identifying triggers for stressful memories and managing those triggers is important as well. I can help you become more aware of thoughts and feelings so that you can chose your reactions rather feeling subject to automatic and intrusive thoughts, images, and reactions. Feeling in control can do wonders for your self-esteem.
Anger is a normal human emotion but when expressed destructively it can lead to problems in relationships, work, and for your self-esteem. Because of its connection to the body’s fight, flight, or freeze response, anger can also make you feel like you are out of control. Anger therapy involves developing an understanding of the underlying processes and gaining more effective emotional skills to help you feel in control. I will also help you recognize how justification occurs when triggered. Awareness of the justification process stops anger from escalating. This component of anger management is particularly important in relationships and can help you move from reactive/defensive listening to empathy for your partner.
Effective tools include recognizing triggers before they occur, creating different response pathways when triggered, developing healthy communication and emotional skills, relaxation skills, and thought-restructuring. The ability to put things into perspective is especially important, for this involves processing anger rather than escalating it and gives you the ability to use humor with yourself.