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Finding Strength in the Symptom

Breaking Free from the Limits of Our Medical Treatment Model

Courtney Armstrong

By Courtney Armstrong - As therapists, we’re taught to be master detectives, methodically investigating our clients’ symptoms in search of the source of their pain. But if we spend too much time preoccupied with them, we’re likely to miss important clues to their hidden strengths. I’ve learned that turning a symptom into a client’s ally can transform the whole experience of therapy for both the therapist and client.

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A Polyvagal Primer

A Three-Part Exercise That Taps Into the Nervous System to Create Safety and Trust

Deb Dana

By Deb Dana - The three elements of our autonomic nervous system—ventral, sympathetic, and dorsal—act as our largely subconscious surveillance system, working in the background to read subtle signals of safety or threat. That’s why I help clients create a clear map of their own autonomic nervous systems, so they become aware of their patterns of response to ease and distress.

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VIDEO: How Symptoms Reveal the Path to Growth

IFS Developer Richard Schwartz on Befriending the Inner "Protector"

Richard Schwartz

Often, our attitudes toward anxiety symptoms are misguided, says Richard Schwartz, the originator of Internal Family Systems. By understanding responses like cold sweats and heavy breathing, for instance, as positive expressions of a wish to protect oneself, rather than simply negative symptoms, Schwartz says, trauma survivors are in a better position to begin the process of healing.

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The Healing Power of Uncertainty

Our Traditional Approaches to Anxiety Treatment Aren't Good Enough

Reid Wilson

By Reid Wilson - Therapy with anxious clients is most effective when I repeatedly challenge their underlying beliefs about how to handle distress. Anxious clients don't need my cleverness. They need therapeutic principles powerful enough to offset their faulty beliefs. I've learned to help my anxious clients by challenging three of their most basic life stances: their attitudes toward worry, certainty, and comfort.

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Why You Should Want Your Anxious Clients to Get Anxious on Purpose

Getting Rid of Panic Symptoms in as Little as Three Weeks

Reid Wilson

By Reid Wilson - My clinical experience indicates that clients who can be persuaded to provoke and endure their symptoms without resorting to relaxation exercises quickly become habituated to their fears. Here's the five-step treatment I've developed, based on the work of the top clinicians and researchers in the anxiety field.

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The Silver Lining in Failure

Not Every Teachable Moment Has to Be a Successful One

Cloe Madanes

By Cloe Madanes - The problem with a failure is that one doesn't really understand why one failed. If one did, it wouldn't have been a failure. But I'm not giving up on my toughest client, Bob. There's one strategy I still haven't used.

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The Emotional Truth Behind Anxiety Symptoms

An Exercise That Gets at the Root of Your Clients' Worries

Bruce Ecker

By Bruce Ecker - Anxieties and panics aren't merely neurobiological dysfunctions. By heading straight into the core of meaning at the heart of symptoms, therapy becomes a place where a deeper sense of order replaces the apparent senselessness of presenting complaints, and clients awaken to areas of self that have control over what previously seemed utterly out of control.

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VIDEO: Treating Anxiety

David Burns on the Paradox of Resistance

David Burns

According to expert David Burns, author of When Panic Attacks, the biggest barrier to treating anxiety successfully is recognizing how clients covertly hold onto their symptoms, even when it causes them enormous distress. In this video, David explains how he addresses outcome and process resistance in a way that quickly leads to meaningful and lasting change.

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Getting to the Hidden Cause of Anxiety

David Burns on the Origin of His Hidden Emotion Technique

David Burns

When I first began my career in CBT, it seemed to work a lot better than medications and talk therapy, and clients liked it. Sometimes, the results were fast and spectacular. But something was missing. It seemed obvious that negative thoughts triggered anxiety, but what caused the negative thoughts? What was it inside a person that made him or her so vulnerable to intense anxiety and insecurity? Then one day, one of my patients got me to thinking about anxiety in an entirely new way.

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A Breathing Exercise Regimen for Anxiety Disorders

Unlocking the Power of Deep Breathing to Combat Panic Attacks

Graham Cambell

Anxiety attacks anything and everything in a person's life. Sometimes the targets are the mundane activities that others take for granted. At other times, it attacks more fundamental functions, such as one's ability to work or to love. We are used to thinking of people who are afraid to speak in public or to drive across a bridge as anxious. We are all familiar with a few stereotypical worrywarts. But anxiety influences a much broader range of behaviors. To the ordinary observer, people who are rude in a restaurant, obnoxious at their child's soccer game or overly exacting of their employees might seem simply self-centered. But often, these individuals are dealing with a wide variety of inner phantoms.

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