When it comes to help for anxiety, depth psychotherapy can change our understanding and enable healing in depth.
Telling Someone to “Just Relax” Doesn’t Work
People with hypertension or other stress-related medical conditions often get told by medical personnel to “just relax”. That’s much harder to do than it sounds. While such advice is intended as help for anxiety, very often inf severely anxious or driven people it creates increased anxiety — “getting anxious about being anxious”. Or else, people rage, either: 1) at themselves, because “I can’t even do a simple thing like relaxing”, or, 2) at external circumstances.
Everyone Wants to Eliminate Anxiety; No One Wants to Understand It
As Dr. Cara Barker, the author of the “World Weary Woman” study reminds us, in medical literature on driven and/or perfectionist personalities,
“…the emphasis is on symptoms as negative, something to be eradicated. Anger and anxiety are viewed as toxic, rather than in terms of what they might be trying to communicate.”
Here’s where depth psychotherapy provides unique help for anxiety. It stays with the key question, “What might anxiety be trying to communicate about my life?”
Jungian Analyst Marion Woodman on “Healing as Making Whole”
Anxiety will often manifest itself in dreams. In fact, it’s often the anxious dreams that we remember, because they are the ones that wake us up, as Dr. Donald Broadribb reminds us.
Depth psychotherapy can often use dreams as important help for anxiety, because dreams often point to the root situation in the life of the individual that is creating the anxiety. For instance, if an individual is dealing with a recurring dream that he or she has had since childhood, this may often indicate that the particular anxiety that the person is experiencing now is connected in some substantial way with anxieties or issues that have been present in a person’s life for an extremely long time, and that need to be explored.
The importance of dreams as a help for anxiety can be that they take us into the deeper meaning of the anxiety, and past the place of simply viewing it as a symptom. Nonetheless, there are many other possible approaches to the meaning of anxiety.
The Meaning of Anxiety Symptom
In our culture, people are socialized to deal with difficulties by applying more and more effort to them. Often latent, unexpressed perfectionism keeps us pushing harder and harder to solve the problems in our lives, and that keeps increasing anxiety levels. Often, this is rooted in a deep-seated feeling that we are simply not good enough. We are often not inclined to look inside ourselves until we encounter anxiety and pain so intense that we can’t use our ordinary strategies to defend against it. Then we’re forced to realize that effort of will is not going to solve our problems; we really need to get in touch with what’s going on in our heart. At that point, depth psychotherapy provides the most effective form of help for anxiety.
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst
Oakville, Burlington & Mississauga Ontario
PHOTO: Some rights reserved by danisabella Video: © Marion Woodman ; inspirationandspirit