Read our posts about anxiety

Self-soothing: Coping with Stress

Self-soothing: Coping with Stress

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can be the most effective. Connecting to our senses promotes wellbeing and relaxation through our sight, sound, smell, and touch. Learning how to manage the everyday and extraordinary stresses of life is a vital skill – one that everyone can develop simply and easily with minimal expense. While there is little that can be done to take away the risk factor, stress - including traumatic events - is increasingly part of everyone’s experiences. While you may not be able to avoid it, you can do something to mitigate the risks and reduce...
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The Ground Beneath My Feet: a Fear of the Unknown

The Ground Beneath My Feet: a Fear of the Unknown

I was 13 when I had my first panic attack, though I didn’t know what it was then. I was at a café in Biarritz when I got a chicken bone lodged in my throat. My entire body went white hot; I became convinced I was going to die. The blood drained to my feet, every bit of me screamed to get outside, so I walked around the block eating yoghurt until the fear drained away. When we got back to New Zealand, the same white heat would flow through my body again whenever we would go to a café or restaurant. I had to give myself ‘outs.’ Sit facing the door. Don’t order food....
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What is Trauma?

What is Trauma?

Trauma happens just as sure as life happens. We can be happily bumbling along one minute and the next, reeling from the shock of an unexpected event. Trauma is a deeply distressing experience that leaves you feeling overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless, angry and scared. Many people describe a huge sense of loss following a traumatic event. Trauma affects both the mind and body, resulting in a set of symptoms, that continue long after the event has ended. The effects of a traumatic experience can seep through families, friends, colleagues and neighbourhoods leaving a trail of...
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EMDR Explained

EMDR Explained

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing may sound like an occult magic trick, but in fact it is a form of psychotherapy developed by the American psychologist Francine Shapiro in 1989. She noticed that when feeling depressed, if she moved her eyes in different directions her level of distress reduced considerably. I was first drawn to the technique because of the controversy that surrounded it. When I found out more, I became intrigued by the techniques themselves, which seemed  to produce profound changes, although seemingly simplistic and rather inexplicable...
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Case Histories: The Housework Concealed a Deeper Mess

Case Histories: The Housework Concealed a Deeper Mess

People channel anxiety in a variety of ways. Worries find expression in eating, drinking and smoking, in counting and checking rituals, and in shopping and hoarding - to name just a few. I've worked with several clients who spend lots of time cleaning, vacuuming and ironing. Mostly women, the clients themselves rarely question these activities. It is more likely that they are seeking approval when they tell me that they don't go to bed at night until the whole house is vacuumed and underwear drawers are re-arranged. Whilst it isn't my job to make value...
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Case Histories: the Anxious Mother

Case Histories: the Anxious Mother

Sophie was a single mother in her twenties. She came into counselling believing that it is normal to check and re-check windows and door locks dozens of times before retiring at night. She would leave a trail of obstacles such as roller skates and squeaky toys “in the path of intruders.” Sophie slept lightly and dreamt darkly. She left the bedroom door open so that she could keep a watchful eye on the top of the stairs. Sophie was in a relationship, but was not willing to allow her partner of three years to stay over at her place. Kieran was a gentle soul who would call...
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How to Build Inner Strength

How to Build Inner Strength

I’ve hiked a lot and have often had to depend on what was in my pack. Inner strengths are the supplies you’ve got in your pack as you make your way down the twisting and often hard road of life. They include a positive mood, common sense, integrity, inner peace, determination, and a warm heart. Researchers have identified other strengths as well, such as self-compassion, secure attachment, emotional intelligence, learned optimism, the relaxation response, self-esteem, distress tolerance, self-regulation, resilience, and executive functions. I’m using the word strength...
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Two Poems To Help With Anxiety

Two Poems To Help With Anxiety

As we approach Christmas, poetry may help you keep body and soul together. For while mid-winter is a season of joy and cheer, is also an anxious time for many. I measure my own sense of overwhelm by how often I lose my keys and whether I resort to keeping them chained round my neck. (They are sitting heavily on my chest as I type.) A couple of poems have helped stem my worries during the mad busyness of the last few weeks, secular prayers which have brought consolation. One is a classic and long-time favourite, the other not yet published. Both in their way have...
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