Anxiety is one of the most frequent reasons for clients entering treatment. It appears in combination with other symptoms, as well as appearing by itself. Many times people deal with anxiety themselves. Other times the anxiety is too great or cannot be sufficiently lessened or eliminated and the client goes for assistance. When our anxiety gets in the way of our or our family’s life help is necessary.
Anxiety can present differently in each case. It can be global, about “everything”, affecting much of our thoughts and day. It can be specific, such as a fear of confined spaces like elevators, or of spiders, or heights. It can be anxiety when in social situations, or anxiety when we leave our home, leaving us increasingly isolated and homebound. In the height of anxiety we may have a panic attack; heart racing, thoughts racing, muscles tightening, and feelings similar to a heart attack.
If and when that occurs seek medical attention first. Eliminating a medical cause is the first step for addressing problems with anxiety. Clients of mine that were referred had heart problems, digestive problems or thyroid conditions that were previously unknown or misdiagnosed. Other clients have had neurological or other medical problems that were the cause of their anxiety. No matter what, ruling out medical conditions is the first step.
Counseling can be an effective tool. It is important to realize that “no man is an island”, that we cannot do everything ourselves. If we are lost we need to ask for help; even though we know familiar areas, we can still get lost in unfamiliar territory.
Sometimes in treatment noticing our thought process and how it impacts us emotionally can be helpful. Making changes in our thinking and with our behaviors can help us to reduce and eliminate the anxiety.
At other times even though the anxiety may be illogical, or “not make sense” it I still remains and does not respond to logical arguments. We may think about something obsessively, like dying or storms and repetitively do something, such as washing or other compulsions as attempts to lower our anxiety. We may get overwhelmed, “feel frozen”, have a panic attack, or be afraid of having more panic attacks.
Deep breathing exercises, meditation and yoga may be helpful. Hypnosis, by a clinician with a Masters or Doctorate certified in hypnosis has been extremely effective. Addressing underlying issues in hypnosis or regular psychotherapy lowers the anxiety further. In therapy the focus is on us. We don’t need to worry about the therapists feelings, or whether they like us. We only need to focus on getting better.
When the anxiety is debilitating medication may also be helpful. In addition to the benzodiazapenes such as valium, the medications known as SSRI’s have been effective for a number of people. Paxil and Lexapro are two of the medications clients of mine have found effective. They “corridor” anxiety and depression, allowing the client to feel all feelings but not feel “high” or “like a zombie”.
As I am not a medical doctor or psychiatrist, I have referred clients for medication evaluation, to see whether medication may be helpful. I do not meet with pharmaceutical companies, get paid or in any way financially gain from a client being on medication. I just look at it as an option; it’s there if it’s needed. We try counseling or hypnosis first, or in addition to medication, with the goal, if possible, of only using counseling or hypnosis. I say if possible because, for some, medication may continue to be necessary. Some people view medication as an enemy; I view it as a tool to be used if other methods with no side effects fail or are not lowering the anxiety enough. I am a realist.
Ultimately, as a therapist my goal is to make myself uncessary with the door remaining open if a client needs assistance in the future. Life presents different challenges at different times and it can be nice to know that another individual that understands is a phone call away.
Randolph Bleiwas, Director of Harbor Crest, has a Masters in Psychology and Social Work as well as a number of certifications. These include a NYS License in Clinical Social Work, a NYS Credential in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling and a Certification in Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy. He is a member of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, the National Center for Crisis Management and the American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association.
He has worked in mental health and substance abuse for over 20 years providing individual, couples, family and group therapy to children, adolescents and adultsas well as hypnosis and hypnotherapy.
At Harbor Crest we don't use a "one size fits all" method. Treatment is based on the needs of the person we meet with, not our needs. Though we focus primarily on here and now there are times we must go back to move forward. We give feedback and do not merely reflect back to a client what he or she says. We work together to help our clients reach their goals. As human beings we sometimes will get lost in unfamiliar territory. We can blindly search an hope to stumble on one of the right paths, or we can ask someone who knows the way. We are here to help.
His clients include people affected by depression, anxiety, eating disorders, chronic or terminal illness, victims of traumatic events, victims of physical or sexual abuse, children and adolescents with behavioral problems, individuals with alcohol or drug problems, or people struggling with problems in relationships.
His approach is eclectic, utilizing multiple techniques including cognitive behavioral, gestalt, psychodynamc, RET, (plus play therapy and sandplay for children) and others to help clients reach their goals. He believes in providing direct feedback and working as a team to help individuals, couples and families break problematic patterns. He is also an expert in hypnosis and hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis, our newest offering at Harbor Crest is a tool that has been used for many years
with significant success. Performed by Mr. Bleiwas, Certified in Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy,
it is used to resolve problems and difficulties either alone or as an adjunct to therapy. Unlike stage Hypnosis the person does not lose awareness, and does not lose their will. Post-hypnotic suggestions are heard both consciously and unconsciously at the same time! It is helpful with studying, test-anxiety,
anxiety disorders/OCD, trauma, smoking, weight loss and many other areas.