Anxiety Counselling

There are several aspects to anxiety It can be a protective emotion preventing physical or psychological hurt.  It can describe a lifelong way of relating to others following the experience of poor care and attention when a child.  It can be felt as an underlying malevolent ‘hum’ to life once described by someone as ‘nameless dread’.  It can lead to phobias, addiction and panic attacks.

A small baby is biologically primed to survive but cannot unless there is someone there to respond to his cries.  I believe he will feel something akin to terror if he does not get prompt and kindly attention.  This early experience of feeling close to death is unconsciously ‘remembered’  in the body and not only is it the first panic attack but can give rise to future panic attacks, whose main feelings  are helplessness and disorientation accompanied by physiological symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweating and a strongly beating heart.

Awareness of death is something unique to humans and for many shapes the way they use their life time.  For others the prospect of mortality may be so terrifying they may try not to think about it but either act recklessly in unconscious defiance of the inevitable, or at the other extreme defend themselves passively by avoiding making choices and acting on them.  Either of these extremes can underlie addictive behaviour which gives a spurious and short lived feeling of confidence and control.  For all humans a basic need is to feel safe and this starts from the moment of birth.

The feeling of safety is determined by the sort of parenting a child experiences.  Those born into a loving, predictable and responsive environment will grow up with the confidence of knowing their parents remain available to them but trust them enough to let them go.  Part of this type of parenting will be teaching the child how to manage his anxieties so that he can learn to do it for himself.  Once an anxiety is named it is bound and then in this contained state, can be faced and explored. Babies cannot calm themselves down and unless someone intervenes to reassure them they will just scream until they fall asleep.  So the mother who calms a baby  by holding and rocking and singing, or sits with an older child thinking about his worrying problem and working out a realistic solution, is showing him how to do the same for himself.  He is much less likely to become an anxious adult prone to panic attacks or phobias than one who either has no reliable adult to look to for help or doesn’t feel confident of getting an appropriate reaction if he does.

Any change in behaviour demands a degree of confidence because it more or less forces someone to make himself vulnerable in some way.  An anxious adult can find lots of defensive ways of avoiding engaging with the real world.  This means he may well limit his life chances by clinging to the familiar and avoiding opportunities for change from a stressful occupation or an uncomfortable relationship. He might use the saying ‘once bitten twice shy’ as a justification, and indeed it is a good maxim to remain cautious and ‘look before you leap’, but when anxiety becomes debilitating to the point where it paralyses agency then counselling is a good way to explore just why someone feels habitually stuck.


Do any of these feelings sound familiar? If so please get in touch. Suffering from anxiety can be disabling and frightening but I can help. By choosing to call you’ll be opening up to a future full of promise and opportunity.