Managing anxiety as the political context changes
It's hard not to notice the changing political landscape, the Brexit vote, and more recently the US presidential election, signal changing times. My client work recently, has reminded me of the importance of being open to exploring how clients' experience the changing world. Therapy is sometimes thought of as an individual, personal endeavour, and so the political and social context may not seem obvious subjects for consideration.
We each make meaning from the events around us in different ways; the same event impacts each person in a way unique to them. Our life experience, values, beliefs, circumstances and many other factors influence what we make of events. This being the case, we each need to explore our own reactions to events to create meaning from them and inform our responses.
The role of therapy is to help clients to encounter what they are experiencing; their thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and behaviours. As the client gains insight into what is happening to them and why, they can make sense of it and where relevant, make changes to themselves and their lives that alleviate their symptoms and increase their well-being.
Sitting with reactions to external events is an important aspect of this work. It can be illuminating to explore our reactions to events, from it we come to know more about our values and priorities, and the impact we want to have in the world.
Political events can trigger responses of anxiety, anger, despair, sadness; their impact on our individual experience is real, however distant the events may at times appear. Being open to exploring this in therapy is essential, where it is affecting client well-being. No subject should be off limits, the therapist's role is to support and enable, not to direct or curtail.
In the coming weeks and months I anticipate continuing to support clients in exploring their responses and reactions to the changing social, economic and political context, and helping them find meanings that move them forwards as the context continues to change.
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