Anxiety Therapy

Anxiety Therapy

  • Are you feeling overwhelmed and anxious?
  • Is anxiety affecting your work, relationships or health?
  • Anxiety making you feel worried, negative, or tense?
  • Does life feel overwhelming?

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time.

A little bit of anxiety can help mobilize us to meet our goals, or can be a sign that we’re trying new things, taking healthy risks.

But when it starts to interfere with your relationships, your work, your sleep or your health, understanding the neurobiology of the stress response can free you from chronic anxiety and stress. And help you not just feel better, but get better.

How do you know if anxiety is getting the best of you?

  • If you avoid people, places or things because you feel scared, embarrassed, worthless or nervous
  • Being around people makes you tense, unless activities are structured and you have an escape route
  • You have a hard time making decisions for fear of making a mistake. You doubt yourself.
  • You know you’re safe but you don’t feel safe.
  • Anxiety keeps you from doing things you enjoy, relaxing, sleeping or the leisurely pleasure of eating
  • Your thoughts swirl with stirring up a nervous vortex inside you much of the time and won’t let go of you
  • You have frequent stomach aches, chronic tension or frequent headaches
  • Your thoughts take you to the worst case scenario frequently
  • You may notice when people ask you how you’re doing you say “I’m really busy.” And you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • You’re cautious going outside your comfort zone or trying new things, fearing a trigger will immobilize or panic you.

What causes anxiety?

  • Origins can go back as far as our pre-natal life or the result of stress from our families social or economic challenges in childhood
  • Or from work stressors of a job that can never be successfully completed
  • Cultural oppression
  • Ever increasing stress from 24 hour news cycles
  • Untreated PTSD
  • Specific events that have overwhelmed our ability to cope
  • Being bullied or gas lighted by co-workers, friends or loved ones who are incapable of empathy
  • Awareness of environmental issues

Somatic Experiencing® Therapy can help

From the point of view of your nervous system, chronic or persistent anxiety signals that you’re stuck in a threat response pattern, showing up as the Fight, Flight or Freeze.

In it’s wisdom, your nervous system is trying to solve a problem that you may no longer be aware of, something stored in “procedural memory.”

Michael in the dentist’s office as a child.

For example, as a child Michael had extensive dental procedures that his little 5 year old body perceived as an assault. After struggling, he would collapse into a Freeze response. The ordeal finally passed and he forgot the scary hours in the dentist’s office.

In one session, he was tracking body sensation, and noticed remarkable tension in his jaw, like his jaw was clamping itself shut. As he was talking earlier, he made a consistent gesture with his right arm as if he was warding off an attack from his right side, even though he was talking about everyday life events.

When he let his attention explore with the jaw tension with curiosity, the procedural memory traces started to surface. And here’s what happened next:

  • His jaw started flexing, a vein in his temple became more visible, and his right shoulder started to make a little jerky movements.
  • As he followed these small, easily ignored sensations and micro movements, the procedural memory emerged. He felt anger, fear and then helplessness: a replay of his time in the chair.
  • He remembered the event consciously
  • I invited him to imagine a movie, where he could defend himself, and escape the “attack.” As he did that in silence, his breathing became very shallow, he turned pale and then after time passed, he let out a full body breath as the tension drained out of his body.

We were both amazed as his jaw relaxed, his shoulders slumped and he felt an ease and safety that he didn’t realize was missing.

If it’s this easy why doesn’t everyone do it?

Unlike wild prey animals like rabbits, deer or beaver, who face serial killers like cougars, coyotes or weasels (all part of our urban landscape and sometimes right outside my office door!) and life threatening attacks regularly, humans override this natural wisdom and become traumatized. Though we are gifted with the same innate ability to rebound from danger and threat, humans silo their fears and discharge responses, and are left with an internal closet full of stress responses, looking for a way to complete.

In a Somatic Experiencing® session, the I create a safe space, keep watch, and supports you too tolerate unpleasant or scary sensations, images, feelings and memories, gently, in small doses.

These skills return to you over time:

  • The ability to stay curious and observe nervous system activation, such as pain or strong emotion
  • The ability to let scary sensations, images, feelings and memories build until they reach the threshold without getting distracted by thought or the need to create a story to explain them.
  • Then the ability to notice and tolerate the signs of discharge: shaking, tiredness, heaviness or trembling. We call this autonomic process, and you will learn and perhaps be amazed that “you” need not in charge of and can let it run it’s course. This natural process but can be challenging when we don’t grow up with adults who know how to help us to do this. We are all missing the “Owners’ Manual.”

Without this critical support most of us get busy, use substances, food or media to avoid the intensity of threat response and discharge.

As children we may have been shamed, judged, taught to fear these normal responses to danger, stress or threat. We may even fear our own bodies when they release accumulated stress and self-regulate, what can be disabling terror and helplessness.

Most Somatic Experiencing® therapists (including me!) have spent many hours benefiting from this kind of therapy personally and have restored their innate capacity for riding the waves of activation and deactivation and living a more resilient, easeful life.

This experience of growing nervous system regulation makes it a pleasure to support clients to do the same. I often often feel enlived and inspired from the enjoyment of this important work.

The Solution using Somatic Experiencing® Therapy

You may be surprised to discover the gentle, invitational process of Somatic Experiencing® therapy to help you resolve anxiety. This natural approach will help you complete and release stress and trauma responses from the past and help you feel more like yourself again, in a gentle sustainable way. You will live more in the present, where your joy and power shine.

You will learn to do this by bringing your awareness to what is happening now, with less focus on the past. You may be surprised to find that you feel a little bit better after every visit.

How does Somatic Experiencing® work to help you regain your resilience?

Skilled Somatic Experiencing® therapists know how to help your body return to a relaxed and rhythmic state after a stress. You will experience and then learn how to support your body to complete and chronic stress.

Your body is already designed to do this naturally, and Somatic Experiencing® simply helps uncover this innate response to stress and trauma.

You will experience resilience as having to use way less effort to experience anxiety, anger, and even joy and closeness and just let it pass through, like a buoyant raft on a wave. It might even be a little bit fun!

To find out how to join my waiting list, see the “Getting Started” page