Getting started with anxiety counselling can be really tough. Working out who to call and then reaching out when you’re feeling anxious can feel overwhelming.
Perhaps it will help to know that I get it. So here is my story.
Anxiety was what got me into counselling in the first place.
When I was a teenager I went through a deeply anxious phase.
I struggled with social anxiety. It was a feeling in the pit of my stomach, a sense of impending doom that wouldn’t shift. A sense of panic when I had to go to college or work or be in a public place or talk to someone.
I didn’t really know what was going on, but I knew that I didn’t feel OK.
The doctor gave me some medication.
I withdrew from a lot of life.
My experience of anxiety counselling
What really helped was when I went to see a counsellor. I remember very clearly meeting my counsellor. I was so nervous. All I could manage to squeak out was “I don’t know where to start.”
“How about the beginning?” she suggested gently.
So I did. I said “I was born…” and I surprised myself with how much I had to say once I got started.
It turned out that I needed to tell a story.
I needed to unravel the madness that I was feeling inside my head.
And it took some time, because I had been holding on to a lot of stuff for a long time.
Sometimes I had no idea why I was rambling on about whatever I was rambling on about until I had got it all out.
Sometimes I never quite worked it out.
But gradually I came to feel better.
Later I decided that I wanted to work with people who were going through similarly difficult times. So I trained to become an counsellor myself, and set up Insight & Connection to provide anxiety counselling in Hove.
Anxiety Counselling Hove
These days a lot of people recommend a cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) approach to anxiety counselling. You might have heard that CBT is the best treatment for anxiety, because some studies have found that it works well in a short time. Who wouldn’t get excited by the idea of a quick fix?
My training included CBT and I find the approach useful, some of the time, with some clients.
However my main approach to working with anxious clients goes beyond CBT.
That is because it is one of my core beliefs that when you feel very anxious, it is because you have been holding on to a lot of stuff for a long time.
Thinking about coping mechanisms and day-to-day triggers can be really useful and important and we will do that, when it feels appropriate.
But if you are to be free from the kind of anxiety that makes it difficult for you to get on with your life, and get the best from your work and relationships, my experience has shown me that you need to get to the bottom of it.
I find that the best way to do that is to sit and talk, to untangle your history. We’ll talk about who you are, how you got to where you are today, what happened to you along the way, and how you dealt with it all. And we’ll think about the future, of course, as that is where a lot of your anxiety might be pointing.
Anxiety is a normal part of life, a natural reaction to circumstances when we feel under threat.
Sometimes this is a physical threat, or sometimes it is something more complicated like feeling like your values, your integrity or your autonomy are under threat.
I still feel anxious sometimes now.
But these days it is a specific reaction to a particular thing.
I am able to step outside it, to examine it, to reflect on it and make sense of what its message is for me.
Do you feel like there might be a story that needs telling behind your anxiety? Do you want to get to that place where you feel like you have unravelled some of the chaos inside your mind and can see straight again? Why not come and meet me to discuss anxiety counselling and see whether I might be the person to work through it with you?
So many things were helpful
So many things were helpful that it is hard to choose just one. Most helpful was probably how compassionate you were towards me. This slowly helped me shift the way that I relate to myself. Counselling felt like a very safe and warm space, in which I could look at myself with more kindness and allow myself to express feelings and needs. This has helped me personally as well as making me more open in my relationships with other people, privately and at work. Thank you Catherine. The two years with you have meant a lot to me and have changed me in many ways.
I could not have asked for a better independent witness to my story
I could not have asked for a better independent witness to my story than Catherine. As she joined me on my journey she was kind and supportive. Encouraging me to see things in a different light. I will probably return at some stage; Catherine's instinctive approach and skill of picking out key elements in my narrative helped me make sense of things at this difficult time for me. Thank you. Everything was clear & straight forward. Which is no mean feat when you are operating in a global pandemic!!
Catherine always remained calm and collected
Catherine always remained calm and collected even during times filled with conflict in couples therapy. She managed to bring back my then boyfriend to a calmer state and I felt like she was standing up for me when I couldn't. I felt like I had a good bond with her and trusted her so that I could open up in front of her.
I feel I am in a very different place
One of the most useful things about going to counselling was learning so much about myself. I feel I am in a very different place from when I first started and I owe it to the support and help which Catherine offered. I will not rule out returning if I feel I need to, but for now I feel happy with the place I am in.
I really found the whole experience really helpful
[What was most helpful about your counselling?] “Having a different perspective on my situation and what I was going through. Talking through how I was feeling and then being directed by Catherine to look at things in a different way and make connections to other parts of my life and relationships helped to make sense of things. I really found the whole experience really helpful and exactly what I needed at the point I was at. Thank you for your help.
She helped me through the fog of self doubt
Catherine describes herself as a demystifier – and she is. But not just of psychobabble. She helped me through the fog of self doubt, delusion, depression that clouded me in a difficult period of my life. And in place of fog she helped install the ropes and tackle I needed to climb onto dry land, out from the cold, and find a seat back by the fire. But equally, she possesses a superpower (and a useful one for a therapist): she has an off-the-chart ability to listen. To make you hear her listening, to adjust the quality of silence you sometimes need to say what you didn’t know you were going to say, to make you feel heard. Her empathy is palpable; yet I’ve never once felt patronised. Most extraordinary is that she does all this without judgement or prejudice, but with sincerity and good humour. It’s pretty much the perfect combination and I can’t think of anybody who wouldn’t benefit from talking to Catherine. And I can’t thank her enough.
You were excellent
Thanks for all your help. I will be in touch if I need to in the future. You were excellent.
Catherine was wise and supportive
Catherine was wise and supportive, picking out elements of my story and helping me see things in a different way. I will probably return at some stage; Catherine has been very kind and helpful at a difficult time in my life.
The help you’ve given me has been invaluable
I just want to say a huge thank you for the past year. The help you’ve given me has been invaluable and I’ve learnt so much about myself, my past, and my relationship to the wider world. Your guidance and help will stand to me for the rest of my life and I’ve made so many positive changes in the past year, a lot of which I feel I owe to you. Thank you so much for everything.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help and understanding.