Taking action to transform feelings of anxiety
You may have been thinking about starting therapy for some time and beginning your search for a counsellor or psychotherapist. This can be termed the contemplation phase in a cycle of change and may be followed by the preparation stage, when you actively look for a therapist such as on an online directory. Indecision can occur when you encounter such a wide choice of therapists. However, the next stage, involving action, is vital. This is when you pick up the telephone or send an email to a practitioner seeking help.
The risk is that fear can lurk between the planning and acting stages which may hinder you from following through on your intentions. Your anxiety might have its own language. It might be saying things like “I’m not really in need of counselling”, “I will be embarrassed talking to someone about my thoughts and feelings”, “it won’t work and will be a waste of money” or “they will think that I’m crazy so I will be better off if I don’t call.” It is not unusual to have thoughts such as these before deciding to act. Therapists will recognise them, as they will most likely have had the experience of approaching therapists themselves at some point in their lives, and will seek to put you at ease.
An anxious and fearful state of mind, so commonly associated with the action stage, has the potential to keep you stuck by preventing you from reaching out. Try to get a handle on what is stopping you, by pinning down the thoughts behind your fear or reluctance. Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen by making contact, then ask if it is worse than what is happening for you now because of your anxiety.
There can be many benefits of contacting a potential therapist. Contact does not have to mean a commitment to therapy, as you can assess whether you feel comfortable enough with the therapist before you decide to book an initial appointment.
An initial appointment is your opportunity to assess their suitability for your needs and to ask any questions you might have about the process of therapy. Don’t be afraid to ask them about how they work and whether they have had their own experiences of personal therapy. Some training courses require that trainee therapists complete their own personal therapy work. A good therapist will be happy to provide reassurance and answer any questions about his or her suitability without obligation before the start of any agreement to enter into therapy.
To face your fears is the work of counselling and psychotherapy. Chemical or behavioural addictions, or avoidance of situations or people, may appear to help soothe your anxiety in the short term, but there are other more effective ways to stop anxiety getting in the way of your life. By taking action you can potentially transform your anxious state and learn to better cope through acquiring clearer thinking and more effective strategies that will help you to engage more fully with your life and the people in it. There is never a perfect time to start therapy. Sometimes the best time is now.
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About Noel Bell
Noel Bell is a UKCP accredited psychotherapist based in London who has spent the past 20 years exploring and studying personal growth, recovery from addictions and inner transformation. Noel draws upon the most effective tools and techniques from the psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural (CBT), humanist, existential and transpersonal schools.