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  • Writer's pictureTony Humphreys

Tools for managing anxious thoughts...

Updated: Feb 23

There are soooo many different types of psychological intervention. CBT, DBT, CAT, PCA....the list goes on and on. So where do we start when we feel that it’s time to actually access some real practical help. The answer might not be as straightforward as it seems....

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is one of the world's most widely used therapeutic treatments (De Shazer, 2007, Hsu, 2011). Unlike traditional forms of therapy that take time to analyse problems, pathology, and past life events, SFBT concentrates on finding solutions in the present and exploring one’s hope for the future in order to find a quick and pragmatic resolution of one’s problems. This metho

d takes the approach that you know what you need to do to improve your own life and, with the appropriate coaching and questioning, are capable of finding the best solutions.

CBT comes under the umbrella of a Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. Why, surely all therapies are designed to offer a solution to someone’s distress? Well, this is true, ultimately – but CBT and other solution focused approaches are inclined to look first at the symptoms, what is it that it is troubling the client – at some point it might be that what is CASUING the problem needs addressing. But in the interim, short-term, solution focused methods are effective at addressing the general unpleasant thoughts and feelings and the subsequent distress they provoke. For example, you have a headache, you take two paracetamol and if the headache goes away, job done! What, however, if it doesn’t go? Or it keeps coming back? Maybe the (paracetamol) SFBT approach isn’t cutting it and further investigations are needed. That’s where something like Person Centred Counselling, EMDR or similar might help. However, in the absence of that, and before we look at actual methods we need to touch on how to differentiate between a normal reaction (Normalising) and an overt reaction (Medicalising):


Imagine you get a call from a friend, she says that she is feeling nauseous, sweating, dizzy and feels like she is going to faint. Not good eh? You're going to be really concerned for her, she needs help immediately, she might be having a heart-attack! Except, she then tells you she was crossing the road and nearly got hit by a car! Then, suddenly, despite the symptoms being the same, you 'Normalise' her reaction and probably tell her to be more careful and that she frightened you. This is normalising. We can remove a lot of the distress we experience if we can see that our reaction to any given situation (despite bing unpleasant) is normal. The mantra I give ALL my anxious clients is to ask themselves:

"....would anyone else react like this if they were in this situation..."?

If the answer is yes, then normalise things.

If It's no, then you’re likely overthinking, experiencing anxiety and Medicalising your symptoms. That's not going to help, and will feed the pigeons!

Next up, real practical methods for 'Calming the Alarm'.


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