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Understanding Anxiety

What is it? What role does therapy play in alleviating its effects?

WE SAT DOWN to talk with Eamonn Boland, co-director of Bath Avenue Counselling Centre and psychotherapist with 20 years’ experience. We talked about Anxiety, what it is and what role therapy plays when working with clients.

Anxiety seems to be loosely described as the mind and body’s reaction to a stressful situation, but it’s obviously much more than that. Could you elaborate?

How we respond to various situations is felt on a physical level as well as in our minds. But if anxiety is consistent and pervasive, then it can create a lot of problems in our lives. We all feel anxiety at some stage, but when it’s coming at us daily it can begin to mushroom.

Are a lot of your clients presenting with Anxiety?

Anxiety is our biggest presenting issue in the centre. Some people can use it as an ‘umbrella’ term for how they are feeling. But without doubt, there’s a lot of anxiety there.

Could you give an example of how someone may be feeling the effects of anxiety?

Well, some people may find themselves under a lot of strain due to a conflict with a family member or partner. That conflict will create stress and anxiety. That person may also be having a stressful time in work. It can be very difficult to manage, and is certainly does bring about a level of anxiety.

What about some people that are really struggling with severe anxiety?

Anxiety can really impact some people, and really affect their lives. It can take many forms and even be a disorder. It very much depends on the individual. For example, some people may be so anxious and worried that they are even afraid to leave the house.

Do some people suffer from anxiety, but not realise that they do?

That may happen, but in my experience the vast majority of people know. They know that the worry they are feeling is above normal levels for them. But the challenge is deciding at what point do they do something about it. At what stage does that person say that they need to start taking care of themselves and seek some help.

Do some people try to hide from it, or even deny that it’s there?

Definitely. Especially here in Ireland where people never really talked about their emotions or their feelings. But thankfully things are changing. I now attract a number of clients from teenage years into their twenties who are ready and willing to talk about their feelings.

Are there some basic steps we can take to help alleviate anxiety?

Fundamentally, psychotherapy is a very strong practice for helping people deal with anxiety. But there are many little things that you can do at a mind, body and spirit level to help. There are a number of CBT exercises that will help change the way people think. Physical exercise is always of value. But what’s crucial is finding measures that suit the individual. Some people may be too anxious to try meditation. Yoga works for some people. Some other people find prayer helpful. So it’s important that each person finds something to start with that suits them.

As a therapist, how do you work with people that are suffering from Anxiety?

It is always a collaborative approach. I discuss the needs and wants of the client. It’s what we call an invitation to talk. And in beginning to talk we can start to make connections between their worries. So we begin to formulate a picture of what is really impacting on their lives and how we can address that.
In some rare cases where the anxiety is rather severe, I may recommend a full assessment that would be carried out by a psychologist trained in that particular area.

Would it be fair to say that anxiety doesn’t exist in a vacuum? Is it quite connected with the rest of your life?

Absolutely. Anxiety is not just about the particular worry. It’s also about anger maybe, about some loss that the person has experienced, or even a series of unexpressed feelings that are festering.

So a course of therapy, as well as implementing tips and practices, seems to be very valuable?

Yes, but it’s really important to remember that it very much depends on the individual’s needs and wants. It’s a collaborative approach and we always want to find what works best for that person.

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Sandymount, Dublin D04 K386
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Disclaimer: Bath Avenue Counselling Centre operates as a referral agency. We provide facilities for mental health professionals that practice independently of Bath Avenue Counselling Centre. Each therapist operates as a sole trader with their own relevant insurances and accreditations.
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