My Clinical Paradigm in Treating Anxiety
Have you ever been snuggled under your covers in the middle of the night when everyone else in your household is asleep, and your awareness is entangled with horrible disaster stories about you, your life, the future, the mistakes of the past, or how you are truly unlovable, unattractive, or undeserving of the good things in life? Do you notice your body tensing up with anxiety, even though you look around you and everything looks safe and secure?
Have you ever avoided social events because of the unpredictable nature of interacting with others, especially if you don’t know who is going to be in attendance at the event? Have your palms become sweaty, your heart races and you become overwhelmed with anxiety and end up staying at home because you feel safer there?
What about when you are home on Sundays and you think about the upcoming work week and all that that entails, and find yourself consumed with feelings of dread and anxiety, entangled with thoughts about the horrible things that might happen?
Have you lived with an awareness that you have held yourself back from taking risks in life and living up to what you quietly know is your true potential? Has anxiety significantly shaped your life choices and kept you making the “safe” choice instead of the “creative, exciting, vibrant” choices that define a well lived life for you?
Healing and Recovery from Anxiety is possible
Even though we humans have become the most successful of all living beings in the world, we continue to live with brains that are not too far out of the cave neurobiologically. When I talk with my clients about how we really live as “prey species” neurobiologically, most of the time they will at first object to this as they think about how successful humans have been at mastering the art of survival. As we explore these ideas further, however, most clients will acknowledge that they live more moments feeling like a bunny in their daily lives than a leopard.
When treating anxiety, I believe very strongly in the “nature / nurture” influences that have shaped all of our current difficulties in our lives. When we are born, we are greatly influenced by the genetic pre dispositions that we inherit from our families, but our brains are also greatly influenced by the experiences that we have in our early childhood years, both in our families and in other arenas such as at school and with peers. The work is not necessarily a process of digging up the past to gain understanding of why we are how we are in the present, but it’s more a process of acknowledging how experience and the neurobiological predispositions that we were born with interact to shape symptoms that might create problems for us in the present.
Anxiety is treatable when clients practice skills
The work involves engaging in the practice of skills that enable our brains to live less as a prey species and instead live moment by moment with very little mental chatter in a calm, peaceful body that is focused on the beauty of what can be seen, smelled, heard, felt and tasted.
Counseling enlists the innate neuroplasticity of the human brain to enable clients, with what they do with the focus of their awareness, to influence the neural firing of our brains so that we foster the formation of new neural pathways that are more in alignment with how we want to “live in our skin”. Anxiety is helpful when we are walking down a trail that we have heard is populated with leopards. It keeps us on the lookout for danger so that we can stay alive. We were never meant to live, however, with the constant, day to day presence of danger signals screaming in our brains.
In Counseling, we want to learn to live most of our waking moments with quiet peace and joy, relaxed and calm in our physical beings. That is the primary goal of treatment. I will be posting more information on my thrive blog over time, so that you can learn and practice skills that have been supported by the latest scientific research as being instrumental in nurturing a sense of thriving in life.
Keep following my website! I am hoping to post new information once a week!
Take care of you! Leslie