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Treatment for Anxiety Begins with Minimizing Shame and Self Hatred

By Debra Kissen

All of my clients begin treatment terrified of their anxiety symptoms.  The first few sessions are jam packed with statements such as, “You are going to think I am crazy if I tell you this…” or “I am so ashamed to admit that I…”. I immediately reply, “I can guarantee you that whatever you are about to say, I have heard numerous times before and I will have no judgment about who you are, based on these anxiety related thoughts, behaviors and sensations.”. It is anxiety’s job to convince you, “This is VERY serious…if you don’t listen to me, something very, very BAD will happen”.  It is my job, and soon turns into my clients job, to look anxiety back in the face and say “you are just a false alarm… A brain blip..nothing more…nothing less…you may be uncomfortable but you can’t hurt me…you will soon pass, as all things do.” It is one of the most powerful moments of treatment, when a client takes the brave step of sharing with me all of the details of their anxiety related thoughts, feeling and behaviors. And what they get back is me, with a neutral look on my face stating, “ok, so let’s start whittling these down.”. I am not hiding my true feelings of shock or disgust.  I know these thoughts are coming from the anxiety machine within their brain and we simply need to categorize them as spam vs. Priority mail.  It is so healing to shine light upon your “anxiety secret”, in the safety of a well trained anxiety specialist. Anxiety grows in the dark and melts away in the bright light of acceptance and openness.

Dr. Debra Kissen is CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Center. Dr. Kissen specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...

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