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A Tip For Working with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

When working with clients who suffer from GAD (general anxiety disorder) I have often found that they present with ‘my anxiety just happens, it’s not about anything specific…’. In the past this was quite the barrier for me to work with, and after some time and experience with those clients I have notice some interesting things. I’ll give you two of them here, and you can let me know in the comments what you think.

1. In the intake, even with GAD clients, I have always been able to notice some triggers that make the anxiety worse or add to it. While I don’t find the ultimate trigger for everything (which is what the client is looking for), I do find something that does something. I will often start with that, and once I open those up, more often then not the rest starts to open as well.

2. When I don’t know the triggers, I check for the idea that this that there are no specific triggers and the anxiety ‘just happens’ is itself quite anxiety provoking. That idea has so far always been on the mark. Now that I have identified that global trigger, I open it up by acknowledging the positive intent behind that anxiety (more often then not it’s ‘try to figure it out so I can know why it happens so I can fix it’). Once the client clearly sees that benefit, they let it go, and that bit of anxiety is gone.

At that point I have found that the rest becomes explorable as well. And there’s a simple explanation. The anxiety of ‘just happens’ creates the tight hold on ‘I need to completely figure this out’ which makes it that the client automatically rejects anything that isn’t a full blown perfect explanation for everything, which presents as ‘I don’t know what my triggers are’. Opening up the ‘just happens’ now opens the space for us to pinpoint and pick apart the triggers as well.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.

Joe

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