Anxiety is one way to respond to an external event that we see as a threat. In a state of anxiety, some of our physical and mental functions are heightened so that we are able effectively to confront what is threatening us, or to escape it. This is referred to as the “fight-or-flight response”. As such, it has been essential to our survival as a species, and continues to serve us in situations of severe danger.
However we find that we often experience it in situations that don’t really call for it.
What is anxiety for?
In itself, anxiety does not teach us anything about its causes. It does not tell us anything about the best way to resolve a problem. It does not tell us how to be less anxious. It just prepares us for a very simple response – fight or flight. We may even find that, in a state of anxiety, we are less able to act, as a situation really requires – in these cases, anxiety clearly “gets in the way”!
So, paradoxically, anxiety can end up decreasing our quality of life, sometimes to the extent that it becomes intolerable. It is estimated that about one in six adults experience levels of anxiety that they feel are excessive and debilitating, with 1.5 to 3.6% of these being diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (Carter RM, Wittchen HU, Pfister H, et al, 2001).
How does counselling and therapy for anxiety help?
People who have come to see me for psychotherapy and counselling at my London practices have wanted help with finding out why they were excessively anxious, and what they could do to change this. It is therefore my aim to help my clients:
- better contain and express their anxiety
- understand the cause(s) of their anxiety
- develop ways of responding more appropriately to their environment
- make decisions concerning the causes of their anxiety
It is through our understanding of the root causes of our anxiety that we can see clearly how we could change certain aspects of our lives. It is my aim to support my clients in developing this clarity and making essential life changes.