An Anxiety Analogy
In my more than 27 years of clinical practice, I have seen my fair share of anxiety clients. Anxiety is probably the most common condition I work with. It should be noted that anxiety in and of itself is not a bad thing at all, and indeed it is necessary to keep a person safe. However, when anxiety is allowed to develop and grow without reason and necessity can be a very difficult thing to overcome.
I consider myself to be Ericksonian in my theoretical outcome. The reason for this is when practised in its most effective form, Erickson was a pragmatic practitioner who utilised what I feel is an underused approach with clients…common sense.
People respond well to metaphor and analogies as it helps to make suggestions far more personal and relevant to them. When dealing with anxiety, I like to tell clients of my experience of learning to swim in the sea. One of the first things I was taught was that if I was hit by a wave to do nothing. You see the first instinct when you are knocked over by a wave, you attempt to swim to the surface. But when you are knocked down, you are upside down, so when you are swimming to the surface you are really swimming to the bottom.
When hit by a wave, or anxiety, let it hit you take a moment to reorientate yourself and then metaphorically, swim to the surface. It is the best way to begin to gain control over your anxiety.