One of our Mindspace counsellors, Joanne, shares her experience of supporting Sarah who sought help to cope with her anxiety. Both Sarah and Joanne’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Sarah, a 32-year-old professional, had been struggling with anxiety for several years. It had progressively worsened, affecting her personal and professional life. She suffered from frequent panic attacks, constant worry, and had difficulty managing daily tasks. It reached a point where Sarah felt trapped in a never-ending cycle of fear and lost confidence in her ability to cope with life’s challenges.
Supporting Sarah as she began her counselling journey
Joanne told us: “In our initial sessions, I focused on creating a safe and non-judgmental space for Sarah to express her thoughts and emotions openly. Together, we set goals for therapy, which included managing Sarah’s anxiety symptoms, increasing her self-awareness, and developing healthy coping mechanisms.”
Helping Sarah to overcome her anxiety
Joanne provided Sarah with information about anxiety, explaining its causes, symptoms, and physiological responses. This helped her understand that anxiety was a normal response to stress and that she wasn’t alone in her struggles. Knowing more about anxiety empowered Sarah to recognise and challenge irrational thoughts.
Joanne found that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was especially effective in addressing Sarah’s anxiety. Together, they worked on identifying Sarah’s negative automatic thoughts and cognitive distortions. Through challenging these thoughts and replacing them with more realistic and positive ones, Sarah gained greater control over her anxiety triggers.
Joanne introduced Sarah to mindfulness and relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques allowed her to regulate her emotions and cultivate a sense of calm when she felt distressed. By practicing regularly, Sarah began to develop a greater sense of self-awareness and an ability to stay present in the moment.
To gradually desensitise Sarah to anxiety-provoking situations, Joanne slowly introduced her to exposure exercises. Starting with less intimidating scenarios, together they gradually exposed Sarah to increasingly challenging situations until, over time, she became more comfortable facing her fears.
Building Coping Strategies
Sarah and Joanne explored various coping strategies that suited Sarah’s needs. Sarah began by developing a self-care routine and engaging in physical activity. Over time she began to practice assertiveness and build a strong support network. These strategies helped Sarah to manage her stress more effectively and build her resilience.
Working as a team
Through Sarah’s dedication to her therapy, she made significant progress. After a while, she began to experience a notable reduction in the frequency and intensity of her panic attacks. She regained a sense of control over her life and developed a more positive outlook on life. Sarah started feeling more confident in managing her anxiety and taking part in activities that she had previously avoided.
Sarah’s journey is a good example of how effective counselling can be in addressing anxiety. It is a reminder that with the right support, understanding and effective strategies, people can overcome anxiety, regain control over their lives, and embrace a future filled with hope and resilience.